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1 year ago
"Narendra Modi is the new sex!"

The witty and subtle Manu Joseph drove the crowd at Times Lit Fest Delhi 2017 to a frenzy when he said, "Narendra Modi is the new sex." The writer of Miss Laila Armed and Dangerous then politely explained how he drew the similarity: sex is a taboo subject for writers and they are discouraged from writing about it, and the same goes for the prime minister!

The second Write India session, moderated by Write India director Vinita Nangia, turned out to be a great experience because it featured Write India authors Shobhaa De, Namita Gokhale and Manu Joseph who delighted the crowd with their no-holds-barred answers.

The session started with a debate between Shobhaa and Namita when both the writers made a dig at each other when one commented on 'oily and slimy' Delhi politicians and the other retorted about Mumbai socialite.

Commenting on Write India as a platform that encourages people to write short stories, Namita commented that the future looks bright for short story as a genre. "In fact, nano story is the future and with Artificial Intelligence becoming the norm, the future looks bright for such stories."

As per Manu Joseph, it is very hard for fiction writers to compete with Indian reality because it's too overwhelming. "Recently I read a report that Indian villagers are sending their parents to the forest to be eaten by tigers because they get a compensation for being eaten by a tiger. So if you put something like that in a novel, people will mistake it for magic realism. In fact, the problem you have being an Indian writer is to tone down a bit of reality. The challenge that fiction writer has is to portray reality is such an way that people don't think you are laughing."

When Vinita Nangia asked if it's easy to write about the other gender, Manu, who has a female protagonist in his latest book, came up with a prompt reply, "When you are writing the other gender the only way to do it is by doing research but what they (writers) are doing is they are guessing. I think the most underrated thing about writing is the ability to guess which I think is very limiting because there are lot of things you cannot be sure. There are lot of things about men and women that are not literary, these are most basic that no one wants to talk, which you need to accept about the other gender or not write at all."

Namita further added to the discussion by saying she has written in the voices of a man and a young boy. "There is a novel called a Himalayan love story which is told entirely in the voice of a man called Mukul. When I was writing I was in sort of an alternate reality and I didn't had to think about it. Maybe, it was because women are more observant than men and I have observed a lot of men."

"It's a challenge. I wrote about a character Sethji in my last novel, who is an oily slimy Delhi politician but it was very easy to get under his skin," said Shobhaa, who stories are shaped by the characters. "I start with a character. I need to hear the voice very clearly, need to hear the first line they speak. Once the conversation is set, things fall into place. The character pretty much decides how the plot grows." Shobhaa, who is controversy's favourite child, said she handled the haters or the anonymous people who troll her by ignoring or avoiding them.

Manu, who is waiting for story with love, said storytellers should not think if they should write a short story or a novel. "Choose your genre and just let the words flow."

The sessions ended with an interactive sessions where the audience had an interesting question and answer session with the three authors.

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