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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Indian playwright Girish Karnad in Toronto for South Asian literary meet

GirishKarnad, the legendary Indian playwright, will be the star attraction at the Festival of South Asian Literature and the Arts (FSALA-11) to be held in Toronto from September 30, 2011 to October 2, 2011.
Karnad will be reading from his recently published autobiography at the Robert Gill Theatre, University of Toronto on October 1, 2011 (7:00 pm – 9:15 pm). His reading will be followed by a dance ballet Fallen Rain by inDANCE under maestro Hari Krishnan.
Girish Karnad
Septuagenarian Girish Karnad is a Kannada language playwright, poet, director, actor, critic and a cultural administrator.
Karnad is the recipient of innumerable awards including the prestigious Jnanpith Award – the highest literary award in India, similar to Canada’s Governor General’s Literary Award.
Along with Mohan Rakesh (Hindi), Badal Sircar (Bengali) and Vijay Tendulkar (Marathi), Karnad is credited for creating a national theatre movement in India.
His plays such as Yayati, Tughlaq, Nagamandala changed the course of Indian theater. Karnad earned encomiums for using Indian legends, fables and history to depict the social realities of 20th century India. He has had an equally illustrious career in films.
Born in a Konkani (an Indian dialect) speaking family in 1938, Karnad’s ambition was to become known as an English poet. After his initial education in Karnataka, he went to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar.
He won his first award for his play Yayati – published in 1961, when he was 23-years-old.  Yayati is story of a king who is cursed to old-age in the prime of his life but deflects the curse by asking his son Puru to sacrifice his youth for him.
It was followed by Tughlaq – the play which earned Karnad international and lasting fame. It is named after Sultan Muhammad bin Tughluq, one of the medieval kings of Delhi, and is a metaphorical depiction of the initial idealism of and subsequent disillusionment with the post-Independence India’s Nehruvian era.
Nagamandala, a story of a neglected wife’s affair with a cobra who transforms into her husband, is considered a classic. The English translation of the play was staged at the Guthrie Theatre (Minneapolis, USA) as part of its 30th anniversary in 1993.
In 1970, Karnad directed and acted in his first film Samsakara which is based on U.R. Ananthamurthy’s Kannada novel. His foray into films also brought him accolades. He is remembered for his role as Dr. Rao in Shyam Benegal’s Manthan (1976), where he co-stared Smita Patil, and as Swami’s father in the television serial Malgudi Days (1987), based on the works of R.K. Narayan.  

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Celebrating Canadian South Asian literature

The Toronto Festival of South Asian Literature and the Arts 2011 (FSALA-11) will bring renowned Indian playwright Girish Karnad and other literary stalwarts to Toronto

Toronto: The second Toronto Festival of South Asian Literature and Arts (FSALA-11) will be held between September 30 and October 2, 2011.

GirishKarnad – one of India’s foremost playwrights of the 20th century, renowned for his plays such as Yayati, Tughlak and Naga-Mandala among several others – will be the main attraction at the festival where over 25 Canadian writers will participate.

Several writers from the subcontinent and the United States will also read and participate in several discussions. These include Meena Alexander (US), Kamini Dandapani (US), Mahesh Dattani (India), Asif Farrukhi (Pakistan), Neerav Patel (India), and Harish Narang (India).

FSALA-11 is a Canadian arts festival, whose purpose is to present to the public the works of writers, musicians, and other artists. The panels and lectures will discuss vital topics on Canadian and South Asian arts. It is as well a forum for the public to meet artists from across the country and for the artists to meet each other.

Special readings and recitals from the works of Rabindranath Tagore and Faiz Ahmed Faiz will also be held at the inaugural session of the festival. 2011 is Tagore’s sesquicentennial and Faiz’s centenary; former Governor General the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson will give a short welcome address.

On October 1, dance maestro Hari Krishnan’s dance troupe will perform Fallen Rain, following a reading by Girish Karnad from his recent autobiography. This is the only ticketed event of the festival and the tickets for the event are available on FSALA-11 website: www.fsala11.com 

Readers and participants include:

Canadian: Navtej Bharati (Windsor), Nandi Bhatia (London), Rana Bose (Montreal), Cheran (Toronto), Cyril Dabydeen (Ottawa), Ramabai Espinet (Toronto), Andrea Gunraj (Toronto), Sheniz Janmohamed (Toronto), Sally Jones (Toronto), Shaista Justin (Toronto), Surjeet Kalsey (Vancouver), Chelva Kanaganayakam (Toronto), Kwai Li (Toronto), Anand Mahadevan (Toronto), Rabindra Maharaj (Toronto), Ashok Mathur (Vancouver), Julie Mehta (Toronto), Ameen Merchant (Vancouver), Ananya Mukherjee (Toronto), Arun Mukherjee (Toronto), Uma Parameswaran (Winnipeg), Sase Persaud (Toronto, Florida), Ajmer Rode (Vancouver), Nuzhat Siddiqui (Toronto), Dalbir Singh (Toronto), Suwanda Sugunasiri (Toronto), Priscila Uppal (Toronto), Rahul Varma (Montreal), Padma Viswanathan (Toronto/US), Nalini Warriar (Quebec City), John van Burek (Toronto)

International: Meena Alexander (New York), Kamini Dandapani (New York), Mahesh Dattani (India), Asif Farrukhi (Pakistan), Girish Karnad (India), Harish Narang (India), Neerav Patel (India)

Scotiabank is the main sponsor of the event. The Canada Council for the Arts and the Writers’ Union of Canada have provided additional financial assistance to the festival. Other sponsors include Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto, Random House of Canada, The Writers Forum, Sheridan College and the Humber School for Creative and Performing Arts. FSALA also acknowledges the following sponsors – Anil Balolia, Chandaria Family, Iqbal and Zinnat Dewji, Azim Jeraj, Atul Tolia, and Anonymous Donors.

The festival will be held at The Munk School of Global Affairs and Trinity College are next to each other and centrally located in Toronto.

The three-day festival’s program is:

Friday, September 30:
Inaugural, readings and recitals from Tagore & Faiz
Discussion: Whither South Asian Drama in Canada?
Time: 3:00 to 4:00 PM
Venue: Combination Room, Trinity College
Participants: Nandi Bhatia, Sally Jones, John van Burek, Rahul Varma
Chair: Julie Mehta
Lecture: Mahesh Dattani
Time: 4:15 – 5:30 PM
Venue: Combination Room, Trinity College
Lecture: Mahesh Dattani

Formal Welcome
Time: 7:00 to 9:00 PM
Venue: Seeley Hall, Trinity College
Reading 1. Rabindra Maharaj
Reading 2. Kwai Li        
Faiz Ahmad Faiz Centennial: Recital
Tariq Hameed, accompanied by Nadeem Shah at Tabla
Rabindranath Tagore Sesquicentennial: Poetry Reading: Ananya Mukherjee

Saturday, October 1
Literary Sessions, Readings & Discussions, Art Exhibit
Time: 10:00 – 11:30 AM
Venue: Combination Room, Trinity College
Participants: Priscila Uppal, Sheniz Janmohamed, Uma Parameswaran, Ashok Mathur, Nalini Warriar
Chair: Suwanda Sugunasiri
Panel: The Problems of Translation and Audience
Time: 10:00 – 11:30 AM
Venue: Campbell Room, Munk School of Global Affairs
Participants: Ajmer Rode, Baidar Bakht, Neerav Patel, Harish Narang, Asif Farrukhi
Chair: Chelva Kanaganayakam        
Discussion: Is there a case for a Canadian South Asian literary identity? Or does one think of a national or secular literary identity. Whither Multiculturalism?
Time: 11.30 AM – 1:00 PM
Participants: Priscila Uppal, Sheniz Janmohamed, Uma Parameswaran, Ashok Mathur, Nalini Warriar
Chair: Suwanda Sugunasiri
Chair: Rana Bose
Readings in Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, and Tamil
Time: 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM
Nuzhat Siddiqui, Navtej Bharati, Cheran, Arun Mukherjee
Chair: Harish Narang
Time: 2:00 – 3:15 PM
Venue: Campbell Room Munk School of Global Affairs
Participants: Meena Alexander, Asif Farrukhi, Neerav Patel
Readings & Discussion: South Asian Canadian Literature: Concerns of a New Generation
Time: 4:00 – 5:30 PM
Venue: Combination Room, Trinity College
Participants: Padma Viswanathan, Anand Mahadevan, Ameen Merchant
Chair: Shaista Justin
Readings & Discussion: The Indo-Caribbean Phenomenon
Time: 4:00 – 5:30 PM
Venue: Campbell Room, Munk School of Global Affairs
Ramabai Espinet, Cyril Dabydeen, Andrea Gunraj, Sase Persaud
Chair: Rabindra Maharaj
Evening (ticketed) event
Lecture & Presentation: Girish Karnad
Dance recital: Fallen Rain, inDANCE under maestro Hari Krishnan
Time: 7:00 – 9:15 PM
Venue: Robert Gill Theatre, University of Toronto

Sunday, October 2
Readings, interviews, music, book launch

Venue for all events: Campbell Room, Munk School of Global Affairs
On-stage interview & classical vocal concert
Time: 12:00 – 1:00 PM
Participants: Girish Karnad, Mahesh Dattani, interviewed by Dalbir Singh
Classical vocal concert: Kamini Dandapani
On-stage interview
Time: 2:00 – 3:00 PM
Participants: Meena Alexander, Neerav Patel
Book launch
Time: 3:00 PM
Cheran: You Cannot Turn Away
(bilingual Tamil/English poetry);
Sasenarine Persaud: Lantana Strangling Ixora (poetry);
Surjeet Kalsey: Colours of My Heart
(poetry in English);
Suwanda Sugunasiri: Untouchable Woman's Odyssey (novel)

For more information:

Saturday, September 10, 2011

3-Day Novel Contest - 2011

Yes, I participated in the 3-Day Novel Contest again this year.  My third year.  And for the first time I enjoyed the experience.

When I participated for the first time, I was tensed because I tried to get as many words in as possible.
In the process, I just didn’t know what to do with a few of my characters, and they were abandoned – lost in needless verbiage - when I ran out of time.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed turning around a novel in just three days.

The novel was set in the backdrop of the outbreak of plague in Surat (the western Indian city in the state of Gujarat) in 1994.
The second year wasn’t particularly productive because my experiment of weaving several ghost stories into a short novel didn’t work out particularly well.

The editor of the contest wrote a small note to me saying she liked the ghost stories (which, I guess, meant she didn’t like the main novel).
This year – fresh from a visit to India, which was both exhilarating and disturbing – I wrote a story about a star-crossed couple who marry clandestinely but commit suicide when they can’t fight caste rigidities and orthodoxies.  

Adopted Daughter is a story is about the man who gets the couple married and his accidental encounter with the couple’s daughter, more than two decades later while on a trip to India from Canada.
My writing pace was even – clocking close to 6,000 words each day. After some severe editing, I managed about 17,000 + words which I uploaded in the afternoon of September 9.
It may not win my any prize, but I enjoyed the experience and am feeling good about my effort.

Image: http://www.3daynovel.com/

Reading in a church

Pratap Reddy, Jessica Westhead & Mayank Bhatt at Brockton Writers Series (September 2011)
I read a short excerpt from my untitled novel (which is far from completion) at the Brockton Writers Series last week. 

I had the privilege of reading at a session where award winning authors Pratap Reddy and Jessica Westhead also read.  
Pratap’s book of short stories is ready. Jessica’s third book (a collection of short stories) And AlsoSharks was published recently by Coromorant Books.

The reading was followed by a Q&A session and that was deeply introspective.
Jessica will be reading at The Word on the Streets (TWOTS) on September 25.

Generally About Books has “adopted” Jessica for this annual celebration of books at Queen’s Park.
When you’re there please drop by.  Jessica will be reading from her collection and also join short fiction writers Julie Booker and Matthew J Trafford in a discussion on YOSS (Year Of the Short Story).
“YOSS aims to unite fellow writers and readers everywhere in one cause—to bring short fiction the larger audience it deserves.”

Farzana Doctor, novelists and activist, curates the series which celebrates its second anniversary next month.  
The next session of Brockton Writers Series is on October 5 at St. Anne’s Church, 270 Gladstone Ave, just north of Dundas. Patrick Connors, Ann Shin and Aisha Sasha John will be reading.