In conversation with author Pankaj Mishra

Today was an interesting day. I was looking forward to it with a little more interest than most Mondays because of my calendar. There was a blocker for the visit by author Pankaj Mishra at the office! There is quite an active book club called Literati at work and they invite authors from time to time – gives an interesting deviation from the regular hum-drum of routine.
                It was not one of the normal days, as I was busy settling somethings that had spilled over from the weekend and therefore reached a bit late for the session. The interview was in progress when I apologetically entered the room from the back door. (But by that time, most of the books distributed by Literati which people could get autographed were already over..alas…). He was talking about the nuances of writing at that time – his mantra is “keep the sentences short, simple, crisp and melodious”. Interesting imagination about a prose being melodious. Will have to mull over it!
          Till now I have read only one book of the author – “The Romantics” so I was not aware of what else has he written. But the interviewer SS took us through so many works of the author through his expert handling of the interview. Mr. Mishra even read out a humorous piece from the book – about a really slow train which stopped at 94 stations during it’s journey! I couldn’t get the name of the book but may be will check in the book club forum sometime.
                 Luckily I had a chance to ask a question about the book that I’d read. It was interesting to know – which I hadn’t figured out myself – that the author had chosen Varanasi as the place of the protagonist’s escapade to portray an irony. Considering Varanasi as a place which Hindus consider an auspicious place to die (in the hope of a “comfortable” afterlife :-)), the author has contrasted it with the desire of the protagonist to find something about life in that city. Quite a symbolism! When I’d read the book, I assumed it to be just another place where a lot of people go to explore stuff. I also came to know that Mr. Mishra takes inspiration from the Russian author Chekhov when it comes to the philosophy of uncertainty. (I also wanted to discuss Dostoevsky’s work but alas, it wasn’t a one to one meeting!)
              Nonetheless, I am thankful for even that short interaction. After all, it’s not everyday that you get a chance to discuss the literature of an author with him. I wish there were a way to converse for a longer period of time! The reader interprets literature in her own way but wouldn’t it be awesome if she could discuss that  with the author himself? Ah the wishes – they just rise up and up – but you never know which ones might come to fulfillment. So, in the hope of crossing paths again…I’ll put the “pen” to rest for now.


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