Violence provides a talking point for city-based authors
Ack for its fourth year, the Lekhana Literary Weekend hones in on Narratives of Violence. The city’s homegrown festival includes a host of panel discussions, involving poets, playwrights, novelists and journalists, as well as a film screening and interactive presentation.
“We live in violent times, and art reflects that. So it was quite an obvious theme,” says founder Arshia Sattar, adding that the concept has been interpreted in its broadest sense, encompassing physical, emotional and metaphorical violence. Taking the idea of ‘violence’ outside of its usual context, there will also be sessions on ‘cultural violence’ defined as the act of crafting language to your own ends. “As a translator, I know that narratives have to be modified to suit different world views. You can see this as a type of violence —it doesn’t have to be negative,” she says. She hopes that the theme will allow authors to reflect on the process of writing as much as the work itself. To enable this, participants will speak in pairs, with a moderator guiding their discussion. Samhita Arni, who will be speaking about writing for children, believes it’s an important conversation to have. “The whole point of literature is to get you to see the other side of the story. It can help you to examine the causes of violence, and provide you with various ways of dealing with it,” she muses.
The festival grew out of the Sangam House writer’s residency, which Sattar also manages, and the links between the two are very important. “Sangam is not located in a vacuum, it has to interact with the surroundings in which it exists. Lekhana is one of the ways in which authors and readers come together in the city,” she says. Her idea of a non-hierarchical and distinctly local festival is echoed by the authors who are taking part. “It’s more intimate than other literature festivals, and you feel very invested in the process,” says Arni, adding that it also has a non-commercial vibe. This, Sattar explains, is because they have no sponsorship from publishers, allowing their discussions to be “freer and with a strong sense of camaraderie.”
January 17 and 18. Entry free.
At IIHS, Sankey Road.
— Maegan Dobson Sippy