The world across is celebrating the bicentenary of a man, responsible for creating miracle with words and lives of very unordinary people.
Charles Dickens turned 200.
Clichéd but timeless, Mr Dickens shall always remain immortal amongst millions of readers, writers, aspirants (?) sufferers, reformers and the list shall continue. My first Dickens novel was an illustrated Oliver Twist mini book that came with neatly wrapped in a brown paper package with another book and I note which read ‘happy birthday, lots of love, Dida (maternal grandmother in Bengali). I was 11 and my age comfortably dictated me to choose the nicely illustrated Oliver Twist over the other. I guess my instinct made the best decision, as I continued to read more of a man who fought the hard lined system and disabilities that their society presented then but finds its way in even now.
Shutting the aspiring writer in me! Let me proceed to explain what we have in store… The British Council in Indiapresented a range of initiatives to mark the bicentenery of Charles Dickens. 50 countries in British Council’s network presented a range of programmes to mark the bicentenary celebrations of Boz,India hosted reading sessions, workshops, film festivals, writer visits and many more. What remains to be rejoiced are written words. We present to you two different literary strands.
The first stand shall feature contemporary Indian writers in English especially those whose writing dwells around cities and urban landscapes — to contribute pieces on what they feel Dickens would write today. This is titled ‘What Would Dickens Write Today. Writers, Anita Nair, Anjum Hasan, Sudeep Chakravarti, Chandrahas Chaudhary and Neel Mukherjee shall contribute with their expressions which will find its way into the blog in some time.
In another initiative, 16-21 year olds will submit writing pieces in an-allIndiacreative writing competition titled After Dickens and co-sponsored by PenguinIndia. The writings will be in English, inspired by Dickens or Dickensian in flavour. The best entries shall be sitting neck-to-neck in this blog so, if you’re a contestant or merely a curious blogger we would have all information on these strands up and ready for you.
For the eyes only, here are some glimpses from the Reading Rooms we had at Kolkata and Jaipur. The former rubbed shoulders with thousands of impressive stalls/kiosks at the 35th Kolkata Book Fair while the latter, featured in the 7th Jaipur Literature Festival.