A Calm Mind Showing the Way: Sujata Sen on Being a Part of Kolkata Literature Festival, an Exclusive Interview, at Kolkata Literature Festival, 2018


As busy as always, Sujata Sen is almost everywhere at once. So, Anurag Mazumder from Calcutta Cacophony catching up with her, is sheer good luck. A brief conversation followed, as recorded here:

Anurag: As the Director of Kolkata Literature Festival, this journey, how would you like to describe it, in a nutshell?

Sujata: I think what KLF has proved, that, it is a festival being recognized throughout the country, and internationally, where a whole range of voices come.I think that is the most important aspect of KLF. New writers finding new audiences. New audience finding new authors, where there is a great chance of author-audience interaction.

Anurag: You have a plethora of writers here who are present here. You have new writers like Debashish Irengbam, faces like Shashi Tharoor coming down, who is a personality in literature now, besides his life as a politician, you have a Bengali Literature stalwart, Sanjib Chattopadhyay present here, on Day Three, all of them gracing the stage, what is your reaction to it?

Sujata: So, see, when I see a Sanjib Chattopadhyay, in ways he has inspired Debashish Irengbam, who is a stalwart in the making. This whole range is important. I think the stage allows for younger writers to find their audience, for them to listen to the experience of the older, more mature writers, who has millions of readers. A published author, has worked hard for months, even years, into bringing a published book out. It is a huge task and a very big achievement, and no matter how many copies they sell, as a reader, I appreciate the huge efforts made by an author for getting published, new writer or experienced.

Anurag: We also see a huge number of young volunteers, especially bloggers in the organizing team. Do you feel that Blogging is a new form of Literature that is coming up and cementing its own place?

Sujata: Certainly. It is like a column you would earlier write on a newspaper. It is a faster way to write a column, but yes, there are of course certain guidelines to successful blogging. You have to be present at the spot, there is a word limit, it has to have some sort of an instant connect. If you are able to abide by these, it is a very valid form of literature.

Anurag: We have seen a lot of heed being played to Foreign writers. There have been a lot of emphasis on Bloody Scotland, French Literature, translations to and from French, what is the reason for incorporating these aspects into KLF?

Sujata: It is important to have voices from different countries come together. A cultural exchange, understanding of different contexts is very important in this new world. You have to reach out. You have to understand the larger contexts. And these voices, and contexts take you to a larger world. There is an absolute necessity to bring writers from these foreign countries to India, for these cross-cultural exchanges.

Anurag: To my last question. When is the edition of KLF happening and what is it aiming for?

Sujata: The next KLF will be taking place during the next International Kolkata Book Fair; the dates are 19th to 31st January. So, the last day of KLF will be 30th January. We will be having an extra half-day so we can do more evening sessions, and eliminate some morning sessions which some people find hard to attend. We will change the timings and schedules a little bit to provide people with the opportunity to enjoy KLF at their convenient time.


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