In search of India

From The Guardian:

QHyder The theme of the London book fair this year is Indian writing. Vikram Seth, Amartya Sen, William Dalrymple and other writers in frequent circulation in this country are going to be joined by writers – K Satchidanandan, Javed Akhtar – distinguished or popular on their own terrain but less known here, for five days of discussions and celebrations. Something like this happened in 2006 to the Frankfurt book fair, when planeloads of Indian novelists and poets descended on the Intercontinental Hotel, waved to each other over breakfast, and then read from their work to courteous audiences in the afternoons and evenings.

The theme then, too, was India; and the “idea of India” acted as a catalyst to a process that might have already begun, but received, at that moment, a recognisable impetus – the confluence, in one place, of literary and intellectual dialogue with what is basically business activity, each bringing magic and movement to the other. The India-themed Paris book fair followed swiftly.

Qurratulain Hyder, novelist, short story writer and prose stylist of rare accomplishment, is one of Urdu's greatest writers. Literary critic Aamer Hussein has compared her to her contemporaries, Milan Kundera and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, as “one of the world's major writers: eclectic, iconoclastic and versatile”. In her 30s, she wrote her magnum opus, Aag ka Darya – published in English for the first time in 1998 as River of Fire – a great river of a novel, majestic in its sweep, grand in its vision. She maintained that writing can encompass “fact, reportage, imagination, documentary presentation, the epistolary form”, even cinematic treatment. All her novels, novellas and short stories are a testament to this belief, as well as to her cosmopolitanism and uncompromising secularism.
Ritu Menon, founder of Women Unlimited, India's oldest feminist press

More here. (Picture: Ms. Qurratulain Hyder, my beloved Aini Apa)