Geetanjali SHREE


Novelist, New Dehli, India
- Director's guest

Writing / Poetry
Geetanjali SHREE

Octobre à Novembre 2011 (résidence précédente d'octobre 2010 à avril 2011)


" Inconsequential though realism and linearity are in my fiction, I must use both in this self-sketch. I was drawn into academics in a state of absent-mindedness. That got me a doctoral degree, a published monograph and some spells of teaching.

Then came the awakening. That I should write fiction. And write it in my mother-tongue, Hindi. Which in my society, thanks to colonialism, is not always a writer's first choice. Four novels and as many collections of short-stories have appeared so far. Dealing with a variety of themes, such as family life, inter-personal and inter-community relations, and life marked by everyday terrorist violence, with a bit more on women's experiences within all this, my writing reflects the eclectic and ‘hybrid' moment of my time and generation. Some of these writings have been translated into French, German, English, Serbian, Urdu, etc. I have been engaged with theatre too, as a script writer. "

Geetanjali Shree has written four novels and five collections of short stories. Of her novels, Mai has been translated – under the same title – in French, German, English, Serbian and Urdu; Khali Jagah and Tirohit in English as Empty Space and The Roof Beneath Their Feet respectively; and Hamara Shahar Us Baras in German as Unsere Stadt in Jenem Jahr. A German translation of some of her short stories has appeared as Weisser Hibiskus. She is also the author of Between Two Worlds: An Intellectual Biography of Premchand.

She is, besides, associated with a theatre group named Vivadi. Her scripts have been staged in different Indian cities and in Tokyo, Toronto, Berlin, and Seoul.

Since completing her Nantes Institute fellowship in 2011, Geetanjali has published a collection of short stories entitled Haathi Yahan Rahate The; been a writer in Residence at the Ledig-Rowohlt Foundation, Lavigny, Switzerland; been invited to literature festivals in Jaipur, London and Paris; and received the Krishna Baldev Vaid Award for 2013.

Search project

"Given the chance, I will want to complete a fictional work at the Institute. My interest is in tracing lives that have roots in one place but grow branches reaching out in another space, more specifically in the Indian subcontinent and in the West. The work, hopefully, will bring out, through the twists and turns of the tale and the people in it, the transnational contours of today's life. Its multi-culturalism, both a boon and a threat. For me this is a very rich human subject, making for all kinds of contradictions, suspicions and hilarities, which can be the stuff of good literature.

To me writing is about embarking on a journey and discovering and creating life as one goes along - meeting characters and empathising with their experiences along the way. As of now I cannot give any clearer a picture of the work that will emerge, except to say I am all set for a great adventure!

May I add that working away from where you live and in a place different from your own, is like holding up many mirrors at the same time - seeing your own culture from another's eyes, also seeing it with your own but from another setting, seeing the others' culture in a gaze informed by your own lineage, etc. These perspectives can only enlarge one's vision and inspire a writer. I look forward to that."

"During my fellowship at the Institute I would like to pursue my interest in the transnational contours of today's life. Beginning with lives that have roots in the Indian subcontinent and grow their ramifications in the West, the projected fiction will explore the larger existential reality of transnational multiculturalism. Both a blessing and a threat, multicultualism is a very human and very rich subject, which entails a range of contradictions, doubts and endless creative possibilities.

I have no clear idea, as I embark on this enterprise, of the kind of fiction that would eventually emerge. For now, I am ready for and excited about a great adventure!

Can I add that work away from where you live and in a different place than your own holds, as it were, many mirrors at the same time, showing you your own culture through eyes not your own. The perfect setting for the proposed work!"