14 décembre 2011

Festival littéraire Delhi - Samanvay

dans le Sunday Guardian du 11 décembre:

" Samanvay steps in where other Lit Fests fail to tread:
Manjusha Madhu 11th Dec

On 16 December, Delhi will unravel the magic of literature in Indian laguages at Samanvay literary festival. It will provide a platform for writings in eight Indian languages, including Malayalam, Tamil, Punjabi, Indian writing in English, Assamese, Hindi, Urdu and Bengali. The idea is to energise the Indian literary scene by infusing some dynamism and richness that the exponential growth of literary festivals in the country has somehow failed to capture.

"Everyone knows about the Booker or Nobel Prize winner, but most are at sea regarding the good writers of their own language. The Jnanpith and the Sahitya Akademi awards hardly get any media attention," points out Satyanand Nirupam, member of the Programme Advisory Committee, India Habitat Centre and an organiser of Samanvay.

With India boasting a vast ambit of languages, the task of selecting a meagre eight was in itself formidable for the organisers. "We chose the languages taking into account Delhi's population. Thus, though Hindi, English and Punjabi are going to be the staple languages, the rest will keep changing every year," says Giriraj Kiradoo, co-founder of Pratilipi books, who is in the organising team.

The overarching idea driving the festival is marginalisation, be it a genre, gender or caste. The themes for each of the sessions reflect this concern. "We wanted to make it as encompassing as possible," says Kiradoo. Thus, the Punjabi session will be on Dalit love poetry, while the Tamil section will grapple with the complexities of women writing about the body.
The overarching idea driving the festival is marginalisation, be it a genre, gender or caste. The themes for each of the sessions reflect this concern.

Nirupam explains. "We had extensive discussions with established names in these languages and zeroed in on a topic." Once the session topics were finalised, the writers were chosen based on their availability and area of expertise. Thus, for the Malayalam session on 'autobiographies from the margins', an eclectic mix of speakers were shortlisted, like C.K. Janu, the renowned tribal rights activist; Nalini Jameela who shot to fame with her work The autobiography of a sex worker and Sister Jesme whose book Amen: an autobiography of a nun created seismic waves within Kerala's strong Christian community. "Autobiography is a genre that has enabled a subaltern narrative. I have always maintained that if every woman in Kerala were to write her autobiography, the whole layout of Kerala society would change," points out Sister Jesme.

Though the idea behind the festival was to provide an arena for varied Indian language writers to get together, ideate and initiate a dialogue amongst them, it is hard to escape the trappings of Indian writing in English. "We wanted a session on Indian writing in English. We do not see this as means to pitch one language against another, but intend to give space for healthy discussions. Moreover, English is widely spoken," says Nirupam.

The session on Indian writing in English is dedicated to analysing whether 'non-fiction' as a genre has been marginalised; and contextualising it within the notion that fiction is or has been the most dominant literary genre in the developing countries. The thoughts of Kashmiri writer Basharat Peer, who is also one of the session speakers, on the topic is indicative of the dimensions the discussion is likely to take. "I think the term non-fiction is nowadays being loosely employed. It's with a certain limited definition of nonfiction that this so-called showdown between fiction and non-fiction is being pitted," he says.

Samanvay promises some heated discussions, firebrand intellectualism and an avenue for progressive and thinking minds to collide and grow in the process. "

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