#MeetTheJury - books, reading genres, prizes, get to know more in this conversation with Jury member Mahesh Dattani
I love books with memorable characters and a believable plot, but the ones I find endearing are novels that offer a sense of place, both landscapes and mindscapes. I am currently reading Murakami's Men Without Women.
To me, a book comes alive with contradictions in characters, moral ambiguity, and hidden desires that rupture at some point in the storytelling. I also like it when the writing is unobtrusive and yet expressively descriptive. The ones I enjoy revisiting always offer me an aesthetic experience I want to relive.
Most definitely, they do. All artists, and I include writers, do seek validation. Validation may come simply as knowing that a group of informed readers went through your work and discussed it in detail. We create to provoke, agitate, calm, introspect and a host of other reasons. The greatest enemy of art is indifference. Prizes are a nudge to potential readers and pique their interest enough to get them to search for awarded books in a store or online. Without prizes and shortlists, there is a danger that a book worthy of readership may be lost on a sea of bookshelves or, worse, in the backrooms of a printer or publisher waiting to be pulped. Society at large, which includes non-readers of fiction, finds the book talked about, and its contents discussed, giving them an awareness of new perspectives or original thoughts trickling into their lives through books they may never read!
I am fortunate to have a writing getaway in the suburbs of Mumbai, facing the Arabian Sea. This home away from home is also my favourite reading area. Nothing is more conducive to reading than wearing comfortable old clothes and lying on my day bed or the balcony beside my potted plants. An American-size mug with hot chai or haldi ka doodh must be close at hand. Open spaces are important for the eye to wander occasionally.