It is a truth universally acknowledged (at least in creative writing classes) that a writer in search of a good story must first invent a lifelike, interesting character. The commonly held wisdom is that once such a character has been imagined, the story then shapes itself, dependent on the character’s desires and decisions.
It is best that Richard speaks for himself, that I present this conversation without remarks. For suddenly, in need of an introductory note, I find that I have none, and that Richard’s responses sparks of completeness. In fact, I had no reason to respond to his first responses – perhaps silenced by the lengthiness and profundity of each response. And knowing Richard, knowing him as the Chief Operating Officer of Parresia, publishers of my first book, and having met him only once, yet feeling that I have known him for a much longer time, I daresay that I expected to be knocked down by the weight and compulsiveness of his erudition.
The following conversation took place via email. Between Novuyo and myself, we exchanged about 35 emails, in which I was greatly moved by her dedication (as you would see) to her writing, her understanding of her craft, and her willingness to engage. I have never met Novuyo in person, but it feels as though I have known her for a long time. Indeed, there are few of the writers scheduled in this series that I can recognize from a distance. I am yet to fully come to terms with what this means, suggests.
Recently a news item in the Times of India announced that a literary festival would be held in Kashmir. I find something deeply unsettling about the way this piece has been written (or how the news has been evolving ever since). Not to mention, the audacity of the idea of a literary festival in a place where deep constraints on freedom of speech and life exist.