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High as the sky, deep as the ocean

Isobelle Carmody, Australian writer

Isobelle Carmody, Australian writer  

Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean is a collection of short stories, a play script and graphic stories that stretches the boundaries of imagination

Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean. If the title gives you a sense of freedom and discovery, you can imagine how powerful the stories are. The collection of six graphic stories, one play script and ten short stories pulls the reader into a world of limitless possibilities, pushing the boundaries of creativity. Published by Zubaan Books, Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean emerged as a response to the horrific cases of rape in India and in Melbourne, in 2012. The book features works by some of the finest writers and illustrators from India and Australia, including Samhita Arni, Manjula Padmanabhan, Annie Zaidi, Mandy Ord, Amruta Patil, Priya Kuriyan, Alyssa Brugman, Penni Russon, among others.

Australian writers Kirsty Murray and Isobelle Carmody, who were recently in town, spoke of their experiences of working for the project. “I was in India in 2012, where I met Anita Roy,” says Kirtsy, who has co-edited the book, with Anita and Payal Dhar, “And we discussed the parallels of experience between women in India and Australia, and about culture and feminism. We also discussed how there were limited conversations among creative people. The idea was to open up conversations about the future of our lives.” She adds that the editorial experience was enjoyable. “The collaborations for some of the work happened over Skype and email.” For the book, Kirsty has written Mirror Perfect and collaborated with Manjula Padmanabhan for the play script, The Blooming. For the latter, she says it was a step-up, because she is a fiction writer, not a playwright. Kirsty is a respected writer in Australia, best known for her Children of the Wind series.

Isobelle wrote the graphic story The Runners, in collaboration with Prabhya Mallya. “Kirsty wrote to me in the earlier stage of the process,” says Isobelle, “It sounded really interesting. I took a look at Prabhya Mallya’s website and it was so good that I couldn’t resist writing for the book. I wanted my story to be human, to be un-gendered in how we treat one another. Part of it is technology too.” In The Runner, men and boys are shown as oppressed.

“They have no names, they’re just known as ‘boy’ and ‘man’. The girl in the story has to save a boy who she doesn’t think is even human. But she has to save him for a favour for her mother.”

While Kirsty says she found the conversations between both cultures interesting, Isobelle says feminism was an entry point to understand each others’ culture.

Isobelle, well-known for her Obernewtyn Chronicles, has an interest in speculative fiction. “The tools that allowed me to be a speculative fiction writer fit my hand well.” For Isobelle, being true to writing as a craft is essential. She says that short stories are a beautiful form, but few writers do justice to it. “This collection is not at all like that. It fulfils all my rigid ideals. I don’t do B-grade writing. Money alone wouldn’t get me into it. It has to be a good idea.”

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2020 9:00:17 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/eat-the-sky-drink-the-ocean/article6665143.ece

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