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I believe in an exploitation-free northeast: Aruni Kashyap


Updated: July 1, 2013, 4:38 PM IST
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I believe in an exploitation-free northeast: Aruni Kashyap
Author Aruni Kashyap joined IBNLive readers for an interaction on his book 'The House with a Thousand Stories'.

It is 2002 and young Pablo, a city boy who has mostly lived a sheltered and privileged life in Guwahati, is visiting his ancestral village for his aunt's wedding. This is his second time in Mayong, in rural Assam, since 1998, when he had come for a few days to attend his father's best friend's funeral. As the wedding preparations gather pace, Pablo is amused as well as disturbed by squabbling aunts, dying grandmothers, cousins planning to elope for love, and hysterical gossips. And on this heady theatre of tradition and modernity hovers the sinister shadow of insurgency and the army's brutal measures to cull militancy. In the days leading up to the wedding, which ends in an unspeakable tragedy, Pablo finds first love, discovers family intrigues and goes through an extraordinary rite of passage. Written with clinical precision, this gripping first novel announces the arrival of one of the most original voices from India's North-East. Author Aruni Kashyap joined IBNLive readers for an interaction on his book 'The House with a Thousand Stories'.

Q. Has the Assam's natural beauty got any mention in the writing? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. Yes, of course. The natural beauty of Assam is very much a part of the experience of being in Assam. I hope my descriptions are able to do justice.

Q. What is the price and who is the publisher of the book? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. Viking/ Penguin Books India. Rupees 399.

Q. Looks like army actions are criticised? Dose it reflect the views of Assamese or the author? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. Whatever is described in the novel, it reflects the views of the character
Pablo, since it is a first person narrative.

Q. This book reflects your concern about Assam problem. What do you think about economic freedom of Assam and the North East? Asked by: Shawana Gogoi

A. I can't speak for the Northeast, but of course I dream of an exploitation free Assam. Political as well as economic exploitation.

Q. I just want to pick up a line from your book: "One day- they stressed one day- one day there will be no ULFA, SULFA, Bodo rebels or Karbi rebels..." Is it possible? What do Aruni Kashyap think about near future of Assam's insurgency problem? Asked by: Diganta Oza

A. Assam's insurgency problem will remain as long as they perceive as exploited, as long as India treats insurgency as a law and order than a political problem, and so on.

Q. Why thousand stories? why not more or less? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. For that you have to read the book :-)

Q. The novel seems masala packed and suited for Bollywood.Any plans to get the story sorry Thousand stories in to a movie? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. Thanks. If a good director comes forward, why not?

Q. Is this book an auto biography? Asked by: sundar1950in

A. No, not at all. Pablo is a very different kind of person, and I don't like many things about him.

Q. How do you suggest, the book being translated into Assamese and Hindi? So that it becomes intelligible to the masses in large number. Asked by: nabish

A. I hope Hindi and Assamese publishers would come forward to publish them in these languages. I will be very happy if that happens.

Q. Is it your dream project? Who is your inspiration? Asked by: Shobana

A. Every first book is the dream project of an author. Writers such as Toni Morrison, William Faulkner, Ashapurna Debi, Indira Goswami, Amitav Ghosh are my inspirations.

Q. As a commoner I feel the novel should be read by the militants and the armymen; what do you think? And what initiative should be taken to reach them? Asked by: nabish

A. I think anyone should read a book - irrespective of their professions. I don't know what initiative could be taken. I think, if people like it, talk about it, it would reach anyone - army, militants, or others.

Q. The novelist seems greatly inspired by Marquez? You think so, especially in keeping an sovereign imagination of a peculiar world? Asked by: Nayan

A. Thank you. That is a very flattering observation. I have spoken about having a sovereign imagination and I guess you are talking about that and yes, I feel the people of Assam should possess a sovereign imagination and look beyond the ugliness of violence committed by the insurgents and the army.

Q. Do you think that northeastern writers sometimes oversell the conflict politics in the region in their literature? Asked by: Tumpa Sarma

A. I don't think so and this is a stereotype. Yese Dorje Thongchi, a major writer from Arunachal, doesn't write about conflict. Mitra Phukan's latest novel is not about conflict. Makam, another novel by Rita Chowdhury, that has done very well is not about insurgency.

Q. Your book is receiving a thousand accolades all over. How do you feel about it Aruni? Is this your debut book ever? Asked by: Ayush Poddar

A. Thanks. Yes, this is my debut novel and I feel great.

Q. How autobiographical is your novel? Are you Pablo? Asked by: indrani

A. Pablo and my life has similarities but I am not wealthy like Pablo,I don't like many things about Pabl0, Pablo's favourite authors are not my favourite authors. And no, it is not autobiographical despite the similarities.

Q. Hi, Between the time when you conceived of the idea of the book, to when you started writing, editing and finally, getting it published, what changes did you happen to notice in the narrative, your expectations and your experience of the whole project? Asked by: Shom

A. This deserves a longer answer but thanks for asking the question. I changed a lot - made some subplots stronger, while discarded many unnecessary things, merged some characters into one. My editor helped me a lot to iron these creases.

Q. This book reflects your concern about Assam problem. What do you think about economic freedom of Assam and the North East? Asked by: Shawana Gogoi

A. Of course I believe in an exploitation free Northeast.

Q. How do you think this novel can me made reachable to the thousands of populace in Assam? Asked by: nabish

A. It is available in all bookstores but I hope I will have some time to write this book in Assamese too. I would like to rectify the mistakes I made in the English version!

Q. Why did the author choose 2002 in particular? Does it also comprise of the riots, floods and military malpractices occurring during that time period? Asked by: Samikshan

A. I chose 2002 because the character demanded it. When I thought of Pablo, I imagined him as a seventeen year old young guy. I asked him when was he born, and he tilted his head a little, smiled, and answered. And I calculated that he would be seventeen in 2002. That is how it happened.

Q. The novel speaks of a harsh reality of the past which happened in Mayong countless such dreadful incident Assam has witnessed one one hand the fear and terror by the militants AMD on the other the atrocity and torture meted out to the villagers by the men in uniform how do you think the innocent lives can combat both? Asked by: nabish

A. I am proud of the people in Assam's rural areas who have borne the brunt of insurgency and counter insurgency. They are so resilient. Despite all the bloodshed, repression, this is a reminder that life go on.

First Published: July 1, 2013, 4:38 PM IST
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