The Hindu Lit for Life 2018

How can novelty be restored to the novel?

Light-hearted (L to R) Janice Pariat, Nandini Krishnan, Amitava Kumar. R. Ragu   | Photo Credit: R_Ragu

“We take literature too seriously,” said writer Amitava Kumar in a session titled ‘New Fiction: Readings and Conversations’, on Day 2 of The Hindu Lit for Life 2018. Kumar, whose recent novel The Lovers tells the story of a small-town boy who moves to the U.S. to study, also said: “One of the things people should play with is this artificial line between fiction and non-fiction.”

This session, that saw Kumar in conversation with writer Janice Pariat and was moderated by writer and theatre personality Nandini Krishnan, ended up being a freewheeling conversation punctuated by readings and multiple references to both the authors’ most recent novels.

The need to play with form was reiterated by Pariat too when she spoke about her novel, The Nine-Chambered Heart. Written in the second person, the story offers insights into the life of an unnamed protagonist through the eyes of nine people. “Writing in first person would have made it slide into memoir territory,” said Pariat, who chose instead to have “Nine people talking about one person.”

Recalling Vladimir Nabokov and Geoff Dyer, whose works are unarguably genre-defying, Kumar added, “I think new fiction in this time and age has to be a mix of memoir, reportage and story.”How can


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Printable version | Jul 27, 2021 3:57:06 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/books/how-can-novelty-be-restored-to-the-novel/article22471905.ece

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