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“A guide to the vast Indian literature”

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Lyricist Gulzar releases Tamil writer Sivasankari’s book “Knit India through Literature” at the India International Centre Annexe in New Delhi on Wednesday. Konkani writer Damodar Mauzo is at right.
Lyricist Gulzar releases Tamil writer Sivasankari’s book “Knit India through Literature” at the India International Centre Annexe in New Delhi on Wednesday. Konkani writer Damodar Mauzo is at right.

Parul Sharma

Gulzar releases Sivasankari’s book, the last volume of a mega project

NEW DELHI: “The book serves as a guide to the vast Indian literature,” is how eminent poet and lyricist Gulzar described Tamil writer Sivasankari’s book Knit India through Literature Volume IV, The North.

Releasing the last volume of a mega literary project spread over 16 long years here on Wednesday, Gulzar said he learnt about many writers through the earlier volumes of the book. Knit India through Literature is a four-volume series aimed at “introducing Indians to other Indians.”

Through travelogues, interviews and overviews, Ms. Sivasankari has assiduously portrayed known and not-so-known novelists, poets and short-story writers in as many as 18 languages.

The first two volumes covered the literature of southern States and eastern States respectively.

The third volume dealt with the literary work of the western region.

The concluding volume of the monumental work explored the States of north India, bringing out the essence of Kashmiri, Punjabi, Urdu, Hindi and Sanskrit literature. Ms. Sivasankari has put together interviews of different writers in these northern languages and samples from their literary work.

“It is a beautiful work. Reading through the book, one can feel the wonder of other languages. Through her interviews, the writer has managed to bring out the author for the readers. It should be made available at all branches of Sahitya Akademi as well as libraries of educational institutions,” said Gulzar.

Terming the wrapping up of her distinctive project as a “single-minded ‘yagya’ that has taken a full circle,” Ms. Sivasankari said she often wondered if she would ever be able to complete the project that lasted 16 years.

“When I launched it, I thought I would be able to finish it in six years. Then I thought that like Lord Rama’s exile, my project will also finish after 14 years. But I got perturbed when I crossed even that stage,” she told the audience in a lighter vein. The author said she began working on this project when she completed 25 years as a writer knowing full well that she had to “give back something to the literary world.”

“About 18 years ago, after a literary event, a thought started nagging me. I realised that we Indian writers belonging to different languages are able to discuss literature of other countries as it was translated in English. But what about our own writings. We can’t discuss it as not all of it is translated,” she lamented.

Ms. Sivasankari said that through her project, she wanted to enable a common man to walk into literature of the entire country. Calling the four volumes her “sons and daughters,” she said: “I can boast I am one of the few Indians who has criss-crossed this country. I interviewed intellectual giants in 18 languages. The project has been a great blessing that brought meaning to my life.”

Konkani writer Damodar Mauzo, Punjabi writer Ajeet Cour, Hindi author Mridula Garg and Kashmiri poet Naseem Shafai were among those present in the audience.


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