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JLF 2023: Where does fiction come from?

On the third day of the Jaipur Literature Festival, a very deep conversation took place between literature critics and authors, Amit Choudhary, Deepti Kapoor, Ruth Ozeki, and Shehan Karunatilaka.

When asked about why they all read fiction, everyone has varied answers.

Shehan said, "You always love inside your own head. To get out of your own head, you need to read fiction. And that's why I read fiction." 

On the other hand, Amit Choudhary had to say that he never read fiction, and that he was always inclined towards poetry. 

"My tutor at UCLA questioned me, why don't you read fiction. I was drawn to the idea of narrative, a transformative account of poetry. But my tutor said if I wanted to Ace my course, I must read fiction, and that's how it began."

Ruth said, "I was an only child and had no one to talk to. So I engaged in books to have conversations with characters. It was a way of living inside their skins for a while."

Talking of the writing process, Deepti said,"The process of writing a novel for me is a complete cut off from the world. I take hikes, I meditate, I just don't talk to people for weeks. "

Ruth said, "When I'm a writer, I write everyday. But right now, I am an author, I am talking about writing. Writer is always in her pajamas. The author is sort of like the PR arm of the enterprise who goes out and talks about writing making it glamorous, but the truth is, it isn't. "


What drives you to writing?

Shehan: "It starts with a subject and then a premise. But I think that's the easy part. For me, voice is important because you can't manufacture it. You arrive at it. Once you get the voice, you can write pages in hours."

Amit: " Writing a serious genre must have serious subjects and that is what my head is filled with. I did not have to produce literature, I could work with something that was unfit for literature."

Talking about fantasy fiction, Rusth said, "I never wanted to write that genre but the story would always go with fantasy. I start writing and I allow the story to travel wherever it wants to. I had no idea my story would go to such places, but I'm happy it did."

Shehan says," It all depends on the dragon in your book, what it does, that becomes your genre." 



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