Pakistani writers miss Kerala literary fest
The third edition of the Kovalam
Literary Festival that began here Saturday will be attended by
only one Pakistani author - instead of three invited - because of
delay in home ministry clearances and outbreak of violence
from the dazzle of the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in
Delhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's writer-daughter Daman Singh
charted a different course as she interacted with a galaxy of
writers, readers and the media in freewheeling chats at the Kovalam Literary Festival here Sunday.
The writer, who arrived in rain-washed city Saturday with son
Rohan and a posse of security men, said "she has not inherited her
gift for words from her father".
Daman Singh read out excerpts from her book, "The Sacred Grove",
and fielded questions from the audience at an interactive session
"I don't think I have inherited the gift of fiction writing from
my father. He works in an intellectual ambience. My work is
non-intellectual. The characters I need to create are quite
different. I have to live with them," the writer said.
She said "her father has not read her books".
"He is not into novels and fiction. For the last 30 years, he has
not enjoyed fiction," she said.
Is she missing the excitement of the opening of the Commonwealth
Games in the capital Sunday? "No, not at all," comes the reply.
"The festival is an interesting experience. The Commonwealth Games
will go on for a fortnight - I think I will watch some tennis and
table tennis matches with my son after returning to Delhi. I like
tennis," she told IANS.
Daman Singh's book, "The Sacred Grove" published by
HarperCollins-India, is about a 13-year-old boy, Ashwin, who tries
to understand life in a small-town city in central India where he
lives with his housewife mother, a ‘memsahib in ways' and
He befriends Rafiq, the driver, pursues cricket with passion in
school and soon discovers that beneath the small town serendipity
lie social prejudices and schisms. And gets unwittingly drawn into
"My book does not talk of politics, but of prejudices that exist
in every mind - including mine," she said.
"When I wrote the book, I felt strongly about being a parent. I
spent all my mental energy on how best to bring up my son, how to
give him the best nutrition and how to stop him from watching
television," she said.
"I realised that I was an abiding influence on my son's life," she
Her protagonist, Ashwin, hence resonated with echoes of Rohan, her
son. "Our home is an open house. Lot of kids come over and spend
time with my son - I had the opportunity to observe them," she
"Rohan has not read my book. I think he is not ready for it," she
Singh, who stayed at the sprawling resort at Taj Kovalam for two
days, divided her time between her fraternity of writers and
attending to her son's whims that included visits to the tennis
She said "her book was named ‘The Sacred Grove' because it was set
in tribal India and represented the space over which her teenage
"The title can be interpreted in very many ways," she said.
Daman Singh is also the author of "Nine by Nine", a story about
(Madhusree Chatterjee can be contacted at
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