-Riya Nagendra, I Year B.A. English
The Lit For Life fest, an annual literary festival organised by The Hindu, held this month on 14,15 and 16th January was my first experience at a Lit Fest and turned out to be everything I thought it would be, and more.
I love listening to authors talk about their books, their experiences and the wisdom from their lives that’s gone into their work; assimilating new ideas is what the Lit fest is all about.
People are more aware about the necessity to create more diverse literary works, and a few of the talks and discussions were about representation in children’s writing and illustrations, political correctness in children’s books and the role of the author beyond fiction. During the course of these discussions, a clash between those who are extremely careful with what they write about and those who write more freely, is inevitable.
On the one hand, you write what you know, which makes it hard to talk about life from a perspective that isn’t yours – from the perspective of a person of a different class, for example – but on the other hand, how can you write that way if you’ve never experienced those emotions yourself? Isn’t it better to give people from those classes an opportunity to write, rather than to write about their lives yourself? Perhaps it’s better to just write, allowing the reader to take what they will.
The other speakers that I enjoyed listening to were illustrators and children’s writers like Priya Kurian and Larissa Bertonasco (two artists who contributed to the collection of women-centric pieces in The Elephant in the Room), Sandhya Rao, Shailaja Menon, Chetan Sharma and Malavika Nataraj
One of the most interesting speakers I heard was Robert Dessaix, whose words flowed like poetry when he talked about writing and his life. According to him, “if you set out to change the world, you probably won’t”. He went on to say that fiction is about showing how one feels about something, rather than just showing the thing itself, and that makes lying about your life, to enhance that emotion, acceptable – as long as your lies are plausible.