Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Writers in cross hair

On Sunday, Crossings, the Singapore Writers' Festival 2007, came to a close. For me, the entire festival was an exciting mash-up (ah, scenes from events are intemixing in my memory) of scenes from writers' lives, off and onstage. It was an opportunity to see many players in action: moderators, writers, bloggers, festival organisers--everyone played cool and I did not see any fretful faces. Or did I miss something?

There were many international writers. The queues were the longest for the famous Chinese writers such as Jung Chang and Bei Dao. There were enough NRI and Indian names in the marquee to make the whole festival a Rang De Basanti. David Davidar, Kunal Basu (photo, above), Madhur Jaffery, Anita Nair, Sharanya Manivannan and Deepika Shetty (as the energetic moderator with a difference). I was also there, connected with two events, but was miraculously not listed anywhere (website, booklets) but I am not blaming anyone. When such big names are around, where do I stand? And frankly, I don't care. I'm happy enough just to be an audience in such events.

First up, on Dec 3, I had the chance to moderate a session with Tan Twan Eng, the Booker longlisted South Africa-based Malaysian novelist, who shot to fame with his debuting work, The Gift of Rain. The session was well-attended. Many had turned up to listen to Twan and get their copies of the novel autographed by the man himself. Contrary to what I had been warned of, Twan wasn't shy at all and he spoke very confidently and eloquently. I would spare you the details as Deepika Shetty has summarised the session in her blog post here.

The other was a session on blogging, again moderated by Deepika. Malaysia's top literary blogger Sharon Bakar and Singapore's Ivan Chew were in the panel. While Sharon I knew as a friend, Ivan was a revelation. I enjoyed the proceedings and discovered that Sharon and I had started blogging at about the same time, Sept 2004! What a coincidence! And Deepika was humble enough to acknowledge how she was inspired by bloggers like Jai Arjun Singh (another friend of mine) and Amit Varma to start her own blogging journey. Both Ivan and Sharon have blogged about this event, so I am skipping the details once again (lazy me!).

I regret not attending the sessions of my friends Sharanya and Chris Mooney Singh who released his poetry book, The Laughing Buddha Cab Company. Sharayna, as it happens, has been making waves in Indian media talking about the Indian discontent in Malaysia.


nietzschean-ghost said...

I really wish I was at this event now since it looks like everyone else was. There are some names that would be recognizable to me and others I would like to know more about. Good to hear everyone had such a deadly time.

Zafar Anjum said...

Welcome to this space nietzschean-ghost! Though I myself could not attend all the events, I enjoyed the ones I could):