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A tryst with European authors in Delhi

By October 3, 2018No Comments

Source : Times of India

The national capital witnessed an august gathering of 10 acclaimed authors from 10 European countries, who read out from their texts to a closed-door audience at the Instituto Cervantes in New Delhi on September 28, 2018.

Ten authors from 10 European Union countries bedazzled the Delhi literati on Friday with their stirring reading-out sessions in their respective languages as well as in English at the Spanish Institute. Supported by the European Union, the event, Long Night of Literatures, is an endeavour to bring a literary assortment of European literature under one roof.

The event was hosted by the Embassy of Spain, Instituto Cervantes, and sought to celebrate the linguistic diversity and the literary vigour of Europe. The participating countries were Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Hungary, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, and Switzerland.

The ten authors who swayed the audience with their linguistic magic were Clemens Berger, Veronika Resslova, Henriette Rostrup, Jean-Claude Perrier, Istvan Voros, Suneeta Peres da Costa, Claudiu M. Florian, Gabriela Babnik, Carrasco, and Ariane Von Graffenried. Of these, Suneeta Peres da Costa is a Portuguese diaspora author whose parents are of Goan origin. She writes about her Goan heritage and her recent novel Saudade, which was published in 2018, presents the legacies of Portuguese colonialism and the Goan diaspora in Angola.

On being asked about what inspires her to write, Suneeta said, “I am a daughter of immigrants. Personally, issues around cultural identity and inheritance, disposition of people, and loss of cultural identity are themes that interest me.”

Suneeta also feels that aspiring Indian writers should write more about their cultural identity and issues and in their native language. “I really wish the languages of India are preserved through more responsible writing because there is a huge readership here. People should write more in their languages. It’s important to publish more of Dalit writing, stories about minorities, and women’s writings in India. Because writing is about our experiences as well and it can shift people’s perspectives.”

Romanian author Claudio M. Florian works at the Cultural Institute in Berlin while at the same time writing about Cold War and Communalism in Germany. When asked about balancing time between a full-time job and writing a novel, Florian said, “Believe it or not, even for me it is hard to believe. I wrote 99% of my first book in the metro while commuting between home and office, and it took me three years to complete it. My daughter was very young at that time and the job was very time consuming as well… Writing was like yoga for me– disconnecting from one world and plunging into the other to write my book.”

Sharing his writing tips for aspiring writers in India, Claudiu said, “The best writing tip would be to not copy any ‘fashionable’ way of writing. One should try to stick to themselves and to write about themselves– look at their own origin and country, and try to be as sincere as possible and avoid being modern or technical in their writing… When you write about yourself and make yourself interesting, you can build yourself an audience. India has so many topics that you can captivate your audience with.”

Author Henriette from Denmark is known in her homeland for juggling multiple literary professions. A fan of Salman Rushdie, Rohinton Mistry, Aravind Adiga, Henriette has worked as an editor, a literary agent, and has written stories for kids, a graphic novel, and three other books. On being asked for whom does she enjoy writing more, children or adults, she told us, “Writing for children and adults are two different things. You must be on-point when you are writing for kids; whereas writing books for grown-ups takes longer, but that’s probably the only thing I worry about. If I have a story in my head that tells me if I’m writing for children or for adults, I just have to get it out. So, it is enjoyable either way, I think.”

When asked to share her tips with aspiring writers, Henriette implored, “Write. The thing is that if you read a lot, then you become a better writer. Then to practice, you have to write, write, and write more. And then you have to edit before the final work is published.”

The 10 authors were placed simultaneously in 10 different rooms where they read out excerpts from each of their celebrated works, in their own language. Post the reading, each author went on to explain the text in English, thus bridging a linguistic gap between two continents. The audience listened to them in rapt attention, awed by the beautiful language the authors would read in, and then moved by the prose when explained.

The audience interacted closely with the European authors and a splendid evening of literary encounters was established at the Instituto Cervantes. The 10 authors had also visited the Delhi University campus on September 26 to interact with some 150 students to discuss ‘Writing across cultures/boundaries’.

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