Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Young Ones

It was Tara June Winch (below) who started it:

I'm more of a reader, than a writer
she confessed in the Breaking the Ice panel at Ubud Writers' and Readers' festival and all the other panel members chimed in to say that they felt the same way! (Thanks goodness they are able to drag themselves away from what they're reading from time to time to pen something themselves, or where would we be?)

The panel moderated by Rosemary Sayer brought together four young, first-time writers (including Tan Twan Eng) to talk about how they got started, whether they're able to support themselves from writing yet, and to read from their work.

Tara read a piece from her first novel, Swallow the Air, and it completely blew me away, the language is so sensual. I'm not surprised that she has won several awards already, including the Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Novelists award and been nominated for others.

Ratih Kumala (below) is an Indonesian author and has written two novels, Tabula Rasa and Genesis and a collection of fiction Larutan Senja. She makes ends meet by writing the scripts for the Indonesian version of Sesame Street (where it's called Jalan Sesama)! This session was the first time that Ratih has read her work in English, and I thought it came across very well.

Pakistani-Australian author Azhar Abidi's novel Passarola Rising sounds intriguing and magical. Set in C18th Europe, it describes the fictional journey of a couple of Brazilian brothers aboard their highly unusual airship the Passarola (which means "great bird"). You can read more about the book, and an interview with the author on the Penguin website.

Azhar also explained how difficult it was to shake the narrow expectation that a writer born in Pakistan should limit himself to writing about the subcontinent.

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