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'Indian authors must write more about heritage'

Man Asian nominee Tulsi Badrinath says in order to expand their global appeal Indian authors should explore geographical and spiritual heritage instead of blindly following critics...

books Updated: Jan 16, 2009 13:26 IST

Man Asian nominee Tulsi Badrinath says in order to expand their global appeal Indian authors should explore geographical and spiritual heritage instead of blindly following critics who dismiss spirituality as a weak ploy to attract foreign readers. Badrinath, who has been nominated for the 'Man Asian Literary Prize,' rubbishes critics who point out that Indian authors are often fixated with theories of 'karma' and 'aatma' (soul).

"Literature is gradually getting homogenised wherein you have to build your book around common themes so that it is understood by a global audience. In India we don't just inhabit geographical space but also spiritual space and books by our authors should certainly express our world view," says the Chennai based author.

The author who is in her 40s published her first book, Meeting Lives about the "mundane life" of a mother, says the nomination for the "Man Asian" also known as the Asian Booker, helped her tide over the otherwise tedious process of finding a publisher. However, Badrinath, who lost out on the coveted prize two years in a row, (2007 and 2008) is nonplussed.

"People ask me what if I get nominated for a third time and still don't win the prize but I am not after awards. This came as a boon to me, as I was an unknown name, the nomination helped me find willing publishers," says the author who is also an accomplished Bharatanatyam dancer.

"Through this book I wanted to map the spiritual along with the mundane life of a young mother, who faces the omnipresent dilemma of the modern woman, forced to chose between motherhood and self realisation, says the writer."

She says her debut novel addresses an issue central to the lives of women around the world, who are coping with motherhood, often singlehandedly. The author said she did not want to restrict her canvas to the life of her protagonist alone but also use her as a metaphor for universal themes and so chose to intertwine her existence with the life of women of mythological lore.

"All literature is located in the particular, but the theme is universal. I wanted the book to be a exploration of 'what makes things happen'. And the name of the protagonist itself is a representation of the same. She is 'Aditi' the mother of all gods."

Badrinath who spent four years working in a MNC bank quit in 1995 to pursue dancing and writing on a full time basis says both her identities complement each other. Badrinath is of the opinion that books by woman authors are often dismissed as "stories of 'Nari Peeda" while men are considered more capable of having an expansive world view.

"Women are dismissed when they tell stories of the home and hearth but the domestic space could be the elegy for the larger universe, the ethos of the country, the city and the neighbourhood.

"The book despite being based in the narrow space of the domestic turf is a commentary on universal issues. As a writer I am constantly observing people and as a dancer I incorporate these observations into my performance" said Badrinath.