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‘Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears,’ said Italo Calvino in Invisible Cities. Visible cities inform the fiction of two writers with recent short story collections. Jayant Kaikini with No Presents Please (translated by Tejaswini Niranjana), and V Sanjay Kumar with Ruffled Feathers. They have attempted in a few pages to describe people and places, they have tried to capture a city’s pulse, shed light if you will on a city’s zeitgeist. They will discuss the challenges the form presents, what they take delight in, and perhaps the answers they seek to questions that trouble them.
Jayant Kaikini and V Sanjay Kumar, both of whose works have featured in Out of Print, are in conversation with Indira Chandrasekhar.
Jayant Kaikini, Kannada poet, short story writer, essayist, and playwright, as also film lyricist, and script and dialogue writer for Kannada films, has published 24 books so far. Born in Gokarn in North Canara, he worked as biochemist in Mumbai for a long time. He now lives in Bengaluru.
No Presents Please, Harper Perennial, 2019, a collection of his selected stories translated by Tejaswini Niranjana, is the first book in translation to have won the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature (2019). He won his first Karnataka Sahitya Akademi Award at the age of nineteen in 1974 and has since won the award three times (1982,1989,1996), the Filmfare award four times for his lyrics (2008, 2009, 2016, 2017), and is the recipient of the first Kusumagraj Rashtreeya Bhasha Puraskaar (2010).
His new collections, of short stories, Anaarkaliya Safety Pin, and poems Vichitrasenana Vaikhari have been released recently.
Of his writing, Girish Karnad said, ‘Very few writers have caught the absurdities, pathos, and comic turmoil that drives life in an Indian city today with the vibrancy of Jayant Kaikini’, while H Y Shardaprasad commented, ‘His stories celebrate the silent heroism which survives in simple folk.’
V Sanjay Kumar
V Sanjay Kumar has authored five works of fiction: Artist, Undone (Hachette, 2012), Virgin Gingelly (Hachette, 2014), The Third Squad (Akashic/Juggernaut 2017), A Tamil Month (Bloomsbury, 2020), and Ruffled Feathers, a recent collection of short fiction (Bloomsbury, 2022). He won the Bridport Prize for Short Fiction in 2018.
An erstwhile entrepreneur with businesses in finance, and banking software, he has been associated with the art world since 1988. He is Director at Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai.
Dr Indira Chandrasekhar is a scientist, a writer, a literary curator and the founder and principal editor of Out of Print, one of the primary platforms for short fiction bearing a connection to the Indian subcontinent. An anthology celebrating ten years of the magazine was just brought out by Context Books and a collection of her short stories, Polymorphism, was published by HarperCollins.