While economic and political analysts around the world debate on whether India or China will become the next global superpower, a group of authors and poets from these two countries are in Mumbai creating their own counter-narrative, through the third edition of an India-China writers’ dialogues series.
Organised by Indian online literary journal Almost Island and Chinese literary journal Jintian, the dialogues involve six Chinese and six Indian writers from different regional languages exchanging ideas to better understand each other’s cultures. The first edition in 2009 was held in Delhi; the second was held in Beijing last year.
This year, Indian writers such as I Allan Sealy, Adil Jussawalla and Malayalam poet K Satchidanandan are interacting with poets such as Han Shaogong, Xi Chuan and exiled dissident poet Bei Dao over three days in Mumbai, which began on Monday.
While the dialogues are closed-door events, the writers will give a public reading of their works on December 20 and will hold a shorter public dialogue on December 21.
“All we see in the media is hype about the economic rivalry between India and China, which is a limited view,” said Chinese critic and academician Lydia Liu. “Our cultures have thousands of years of association and many things in common, which writers are more sensitive to.”
“Dialogues between Indian and Chinese thinkers have so far been sponsored by the government or cultural organisations, but our dialogues are unofficial, with no agenda, and thus more intimate,” said Sharmistha Mohanty, co-editor of Almost Island, which plans to publish an account of the event in a year or so.