Going Native Authors

When short is sound...

INVIGORATING DISCUSSION At the event   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

At a time when a strongly intimidating and equally tantalising wave of certitude and homogeneity has been sweeping the world and law-induced violence runs amok, what can provide us with an alternative comprehension of the reality? It is an intriguing sense of inconclusiveness that triggers and acts like a catalyst to deal with various vexed issues as it prevents people from trying to outdo each other.

This incredible conceptual creative solution is offered by a celebrated Singapore-based author Zafar Anjum who participated in an international literary festival held in Lucknow in which many prominent writers in English, Hindi and Urdu, belonging to India, Singapore and Malaysia participated. Zafar Anjum, in his widely- acclaimed story, “Kafka in Ayodhya” refers to the vexed Ayodhya issue and the quest for solution prompts him to explore the nuanced connotation of the incompleteness and the space around it. In line with his existentialist leanings and Kafkaesque tradition, the protagonist of Zafar’s story spells out the contours of solution:

“Leave the structure as it is. Incompleteness is also a quality, a facet of nobility. It has a capacity for silence. At least, that’s what I do with my work.”

Zafar Anjum

Zafar Anjum   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

The protagonist is no other than Kafka, a queer example of intertextuality and by roping in Kafka, Zafar repudiates apparent facts which maximise the distance produced by polemical debate. Zafar Anjum’s sensitive portrayal of human disposition towards seeking the things which are not really necessary to our lives, reminds one of Franz Kafka’s epoch-making story “Before the Law”. Zafar’s stories touch more intricate, delicate and complex issues with its spirit of defiance and individuality and one can find creativity-laced answers to more intriguing questions in his writings.

Story reading, discussion on novels, screening of films and book launch marked the two-day literary festival jointly organised by the Kitaab International Pvt. Ltd., Singapore and Shri Ramaswaroop Memorial University, Lucknow.

Lucknow school of poetry draws its sustenance from frequent use of long winded and ornate words and spun out literary genres such as encomium, elegy, epic poems and Daastan flourished here and laconic expressions are hardly held in high esteem here but the literary festival opened new vistas of succinctness to the cultural capital of North India. Lucknowites were exposed to a new genre of writing “Micro-literature” and an engaging discussion on “Micro-literature in the age of Social Media”. Not much is known about this new style of writing, which tries to convey the story in less than 100 words whereas traditional short story is more than 1000 words. Its brevity casts spell on the reader. Explaining the nuanced connotations of term, noted English poet Sudeep Sen deflated the myth that micro fiction is a recent phenomenon. For him, Micro-literature is as old as literature itself and many stories of Panchtantra, Jatak Kathas, Vedas and Upanishads bear a testimony to the fact.

Well known Malaysian playwright Dr. Malachi Edwin Vethmani pointed out that micro story includes almost all components of traditional fiction with special emphasis on the use of words. To drive the point home, Dr. Vethmani referred to Earnest Hemingway who composed a six word story. Dr. Kavita Rao, another panellist, said micro-fiction’s word count goes well with average reader’s attention that hardly goes beyond the clicking of a mouse or touching screen. The discussion evoked a good response from the audience.

Exploring diverse culture

Identities, minorities and culture were made the object of a spirited discussion in which R. Potkar, Dr. Sheerin Sherwani and Dr. Nazia Hasan took part. Nazia, moderating the session, emphasised on exploring staggeringly diverse aspects of culture that could help people to speak to each other.

A prominent Urdu fiction writer Rahman Abbas whose new novel “Rahzin” has created waves in the literary circles, lamented that the incidents of inequities and misdeeds in the name of globalisation has been increasing and what we need to engage with now has been pushed into the margin. Rakhshanda Jalil, Rahman Abbas and Dr. Nazid Hasan produced a scintillating discussion on “Local-Global: Exploring the contemporary fiction on writing young; what the youth wants to read in contemporary India; heritage identity and Lucknow, Ganga Jamuna and Beyond”.

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Printable version | Nov 29, 2020 11:11:28 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/books/books-authors/when-short-is-sound/article23686495.ece

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