All over the world, writing sheds light on darkness, said Man Booker prize-winning author Margaret Atwood in her keynote address at the opening ceremony of the Jaipur Literature Festival 2016 on January 21.
“Writing brings to light the unknown and the obscure. It sheds light on darkness - whether it’s the darkness of fascist regimes, poverty, oppression of women, or discrimination of so many kinds,” said Atwood, who is often referred to as one of the world’s greatest living authors.
The wryly humourous and wide ranging speech touched on Atwood’s own advancing years, the Beat poets, her earlier visits to India, the history and growth of literature festivals across the world, and the role of the internet in making reading accessible. “Reading has not diminished although platforms are changing,” she said. “The internet is encouraging people to read in new ways. Now you can read or write a story on your mobile phone. It has provided a new kind of access.”
Atwood believes human beings are natural storytellers. “A child, from the age of one, can follow a narrative thread,” she said.
Her own stories have kept readers riveted and chief minister Vasundhara Raje, chief minister of Rajasthan, who officially inaugurated the festival, was clearly alluding to Atwood’s work when she said “a single book can take one away to magical lands”.