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Authors Jahnavi Barua and Usha K R discuss journeys, displacements and homecomings in the context of their latest novels Undertow and Boys from Good Families with Subodh Sankar.
What is the place called home? Is it a physical place, a city? Or a state of mind? As people set off from home, on restless quests, what are they looking for? Do they find the answers they seek? Is such a state of rest possible at all?
Jahnavi Barua, Usha K R and Subodh Sankar discuss how stories, characters and themes develop and how the bare bones of plot are clothed with event and detail. As the characters negotiate the shoals and reefs of their journey, the discussion reflects upon the tension between their individual inclinations, family expectations, social mores and the politics of the larger world. Finally – the knotty question of arriving at a title for the novel, and how the titles of novels reflect their concerns.
Jahnavi Barua is a writer based in Bangalore. Her first book, Next Door, a collection of short fiction, was published by Penguin India in 2008 to wide critical acclaim. The second, a novel, Rebirth, was published in 2010 and was shortlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize and the Commonwealth Book Prize. Her third book, Undertow, has just been published by Penguin Random House India. She was awarded the Charles Wallace Trust Fellowship for Creative Writing in 2006. Her books are on the syllabi of many universities and her short fiction has been widely anthologized.
Usha K R
Usha K R is the author of the novels Boys from Good Families (2019), Monkey-man (2010), A Girl and a River (2007), The Chosen (2003), and Sojourn (1998). Her novels have been critically acclaimed and listed for several awards including the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, the Man Asia, and the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature. A Girl and a River won the Vodafone Crossword Award, 2007. Monkey-man was shortlisted for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, 2012.
Usha K R attended the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa in 2011. She lives in Bangalore.
You can see more of her work here.
Subodh Sankar is the co-founder of Atta Galatta, a Bangalore based independent bookstore with a focus on Indian, vernacular writing and a venue for the art community of the city, that is popular for its literary, art and cultural events. He is also the founder of Bagels and Bakes, one of the city’s largest bakery manufacturers, who’s range of bread and other bakery products are found in all the leading supermarkets of the city.
Since its inception 7 years ago, the bookstore has hosted over 2000 events, including book launches, poetry readings, theatre performances, art shows, screenings, storytelling sessions and workshops. Atta Galatta has been associated with Bangalore Literature Festival, Lekhana Writers Festival, She the Woman, the Women’s Writer’s Festival and the Under-25 Literature Festival as the official bookstore partner for these events. Atta Galatta has also conceptualized and conducted the Bengaluru Poetry Festival, a unique platform that is solely dedicated to promoting the art of poetry by bringing leading poets from all over the world to Bangalore.
Subodh has in the past been an entrepreneur in the field of Information Technology. In 1998, his company Just Vox, an early pioneer in the field of speech recognition and speech synthesis, was a finalist for the Asian Innovation Awards, presented by Dow Corning and the Asian Wall Street Journal. Subodh lives in Bangalore, India, with his wife, teenage daughter and two dogs and is passionate about history, the business of sports and world cuisine.