The second edition of Écrivains du Monde (World
Writers Festival) is featuring Indian authors in a range of discussions and
events in Paris, France, this month.
|Kirin Desai |
(Photo by Annette Hornischer)
Taking place Sept. 17 - 21, this annual “celebration
of world literature” brings together renowned writers such as Kiran Desai,
Vikram Chandra and Amit Chaudhuri, alongside new voices, to talk about their
work, globalization, language and politics, and other issues.
Organized by New York’s Columbia University and Paris’
Bibliothèque national de France (national library), the festival decided to put the spotlight on
India since one of Columbia’s Global Centers in located in the country, said festival director Caro Llewellyn.
“Last year, the festival was international, and this
year we decided to focus on one of the countries where we have a Global Centre,”
Llewellyn told SWAN. “There will be a lot of new names which I think is very
exciting. We’re bringing writers that people may not have heard of, but that will
change after this festival.”
Écrivains du Monde is the brainchild of Paul LeClerc,
the director of Columbia Global Centers | Europe, which is known for organizing
interesting symposiums on global and cultural issues. The festival partnered
with a magazine in India and ran a competition to find emerging writers, five
of whom will join masters students from Columbia University for “cross-cultural
dialogue” and interaction.
Events begin Wednesday with a talk on Exile and Homecoming, to be held at
Paris’ École Normale Supérieure, with novelist, poet, critic and academic
|Amit Chaudhuri (Photo by Geoff Pugh)|
The author of Clearing
a Space: Reflections on India, Literature, and Culture will discuss his
“impatience … with certain narratives (about India, Indian literature,
modernity and modernism, etc.) and the way they compartmentalise" certain creative
exploration, according to the festival organizers.
In conversation with Laetitia Zecchini, a researcher,
translator and scholar of modern Indian literature, Chaudhuri will examine the
“spaces he wants to clear; the way he himself navigates between different
worlds and genres; the tensions of belonging; the singularity of his creative
and critical writing, and his memoir Calcutta,
Two Years in the City,” the organizers added.
Chaudhuri will also host a concert of This Is Not Fusion, a project in
experimental music that he founded and which brings together genres including
jazz, blues, and rock, with Indian raga.
The festival’s other events include an evening of
readings in Bengali, Hindi, Tamil, and English as part of The Many Voices of India. This “show” features acclaimed Indian authors based in India,
Britain, and the United States: Booker Prize-winner Desai; poets and novelists Jeet
Thayil and Uday Prakash; novelists Chandra, Indra Sinha, Shumona Sinha, and
Akhil Sharma, and the celebrated Tamil poet Salma.
|Part of the poster for the festival.|
A 2013 documentary about Salma, by Kim Longinotto,
will be screened, followed by a discussion with the poet. The film is about
Salma’s life as a young girl in a south Indian village who was locked up for
years beginning when she was 13 years old. Her family forbade her to study and forced
her into marriage.
“During that time, words were Salma’s salvation,” according
to Écrivains du Monde. “She began covertly composing poems on scraps of paper
and, through an intricate system, was able to sneak them out of the house,
eventually getting them into the hands of a publisher. Against the odds, Salma
became one of the most famous Tamil poets today, discovered her own freedom and
challenged the traditions and codes of conduct in her village.”