Writers feel fiction is here to stay

 In a provocative mode, the litfest discussed whether fiction had lost its magic, but concluded that this could never happen.

Fiction can never lose its magic, said the participants, and Tranquin Hall termed stories as a description of human experiences and that they were more important than ever.

Writer Shashi Deshpande said she had, of late, observed an explosion of non-fiction tales and even an apparent growing fad for non-fiction, especially among men. “Fiction is a way of seeing the world,” she insisted.

Jaishree Mishra said while fiction was the only way to inculcate sympathy and compassion, it was worrisome that it was being seen as something inferior and a source of textbooks for students alone.

“How do they get emotionally evolved then?” she said.Sunil Sethi termed fiction as an excavation and intensification of reality and life, and therefore the inherent key to see life.

The participants also discussed during the session the recent trends in fiction-writing. A new genre of the form ‘faction’, an amalgamation of fact and fiction as coined by Sethi, led to a polarised debate.

Deshpande expressed discomfort over the genre, saying there was no scope for imagination if the novels are peeled off from newspaper headlines and revolve around contemporary events. “Such a novel, written around a contemporary event, doesn’t last long and will soon become irrelevant.”

Hall and Sethi, however, countered with an example of historical fiction, also an emerging genre in recent times. Mishra shared with the participants the challenges that new-age novelists face.

“This being an age of instant gratification, readers tend to move from complexity and length of the novel. If not handled well, it may lead to shallowness,” she said.

Deshpande took strong objection to writing for the reader, catering to the demands of the market. “With such trend creeping in, the language used in the novels has been watered down too.

The language used in cyberspace, in twitter, sms and blogs are like the grunts used by pre-historic men, as there was no language then.”

The third day of the literary fest also featured an exclusive session by first-time authors Aroon Raman, Yasmin Premji, Shefali Vasudev, Sudeep Nagarkar and Vikrant Dutta. The writers shared their experiences of writing novels, their routine and the travails of the works being published.

Three books were launched - Shobhaa De’s ‘Sethji’, Akash Kapur’s ‘India Becoming - A Portrait of Life in Modern India’ and Akash Banerjee’s ‘Tales from Shining and Sinking India’.

Pavan Verma moderated a session on the recent trend of non-fiction books on the India Story.

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