November, 2016

Creative Writing Programme hosts a reading session of Githa Hariharan book ‘Almost Home’

The Program in English and Creative Writing hosted author and editor Githa Hariharan for a talk and a reading on the afternoon of Wednesday, the 23rd of November. The Delhi-based novelist and essayist read from her recent book, Almost Home, a collection of memoir-essays about different places that has touched her in memorable ways throughout her life.

Professor Saikat Majumdar introduced the talk by describing 2016 as the year when ideals of cosmopolitanism, global citizenship and transnational belonging took a striking retreat, as augured by events like Brexit and the election of Donald Trump as the US President. It was a year, he said, when a writer and activist as Githa was more relevant than ever before, not only as someone whose entire body of work celebrates diversity, fragmentation and cosmopolitanism, but who has been a tireless champion of the freedom of literary expression in South Asia, which has come under much threat in the recent past.

Githa Hariharan (2)

“Where are you from?” This, Githa, said, might be the most innocent question, strangers might ask each other in trains, on planes, in any public place.  It is also, she reminded, potentially the most unsettling. Especially for people who belong to multiple places at the same time, whether through, birth, family roots, upbringing, race, culture, or simply through the unpredictable fluidities of life. Lurking behind this question is the more dangerous utopia for cultural or ethnic purity, the simplistic equation of culture, language and place, and by implication, the construction of social or cultural communities that are built on exclusion rather than inclusion.

After Githa read out passages from her book chronicling unpredictable and idiosyncratic relationships to places as diverse as Kashmir, Algeria, and Delhi, the talk naturally veered to her work for the Indian Cultural Forum , which has tirelessly worked to support and preserve freedom of literary expression in South Asia, most keenly over the last couple of years which have seen a series of attacks on such freedom from forces that brought religion and politics together in particularly damaging ways.

The event concluded with Githa’s conversation with a group of excited students and faculty members, and her visit to Saikat’s class on Postcolonial Literature where she spoke about the relation between religion, mythology and literature, and the various ways in which this relation is being reimagined today.

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