BLF2020 | A Literary Decade: Out of Print – Jahnavi Barua, Raza Naeem, Rheea Mukherjee, Samhita Arni, Tanuj Solanki, Vasudhendra and Zui Kumar-Reddy with Indira Chandrasekhar

The session consisted of writers and editors for the literary magazine ‘Out of Print’. These panelists included Raza Naeem, Rheea Mukherjee, Samhita Arni, Tanuj Solanki, Vasudhendra, and Zui Kumar-Reddy. The panelists joined in to celebrate the release of the book published by Out of Print which consists of numerous short stories from around the country.

What role did Out of Print play in your literary journey?

This was the question posed by Indira Chandrasekhar, the moderator, and the founding editor, to the panelists. Raza Naeem, a translator, shared his experience with this literary magazine which started about 4 years ago. He spoke about his journey as an Urdu translator and how Out of Print nurtured his passion and interest in translating. Chandrasekhar even described him as a bridge between them and the 20th century Urdu literature.

Next, Rheea Mukherjee, a writer, took us through her journey as a diasporic writer who moved to the US and moved back here. She spoke about the connections she built, other magazines she engaged with, and the people she met thanks to Out of Print. Her talk was followed by Vasudhendra, a writer who too shared his experience with Out of Print as a Kannada writer who got his works translated and published in their literary magazine. He briefly spoke about Kannada literature and then about the quality of translation and editing work that was done.

Zui Kumar-Reddy, a writer, told the audience about her thoughts on the kind of works that Out of Print publishes, which she deemed to be like a library of ideas. She admired the concise nature of the short stories they publish. She also spoke about how it helped her grow as a writer. Tanuj, a writer, was up next. He revealed how in 2010 he was flirting with the idea of writing and stumbled upon Out of Print. After three rejections, he finally got published for the first time which was the start of his journey with this magazine. He spoke very affectionately about how much this platform helped him grow as a writer and the special place it holds in his journey of writing.

Samhita Arin, an editor, came next to share her journey with Out of Print which she experienced from the very beginning of its birth. She spoke about the community of writers that she had joined and her experience in editing so many inspiring works. After this, a few  editors of this magazine joined the session virtually, which included Vandana Devi, Mira Brunner, Leela Levitt, and Ram Sadasiv. They shared their joy about the release of the anthology ‘A Literary Decade’. The session was wrapped up with a very interactive question-answer round which nudged Chandrasekhar to talk about the start of this magazine, the process of curation, the voice it gave to the marginalized communities, and so much more.

About the Author: Immersed in the process of unlearning and relearning different values and ideas, Nanditha Murali chooses writing as her medium to approach the world. She is currently pursuing her English (Honours) degree at Christ University, Bangalore. She currently writes for TheSeer.

Belonging and Unbelonging in North-East India

This was a topic very close to the hearts of Jahnavi, Paramjit and Preeti, making this a heart-touching conversation.  “Do citizens of North East need to prove themselves to be true Indians?”was the question they posed.

Each of the panellists has an emotional attachment to the North-East, however, this being a topic which usually does not generate much interest, they were pleasantly surprised and joyful to see a large crowd gathered at The Red Couch.


Where do you think home is?

This was an initial poser before getting into the deeper questions of belonging and unbelonging.

“Nebulous!”, was Jahnavi’s reaction. She has moved between Assam, Meghalaya, and Delhi and shifting every three years since her father was an IAS officer. However, Shillong was her ancestral home for generations and she had a lovely childhood; Jahnavi transported the audience into the beautiful state capital with its wonderful weather. She also spoke of the Delhi she likes, with its neem trees, Lodhi gardens, the beautiful sunset. “Many threads weave together to form home”, she then reflected. Jahnavi came to Bangalore in 1992 to study, has felt a sense of belonging ever since, and is now a writer based here, this being one place where differences are welcomed. “I am gathering some moss and loving it!”, she happily observed. 

Paramjit’s parents were from Rawalpindi, moved to India during the Partition, and shifted base every three years. This has resulted in him yearning to belong to a place he can call “home”.

Preeti had an outside-in story to narrate, as part of her experience travelling in the north-east to write about issues of conflict and women. People have asked her, “What are you, a Punjabi, doing here in the North-East?”, which makes her question who an Indian really is, are there any permanent boundaries in reality? Partition is such an example whence a line was drawn, the boundaries changed and it resulted in many insiders become outsiders to India.


Why do people give you a sense of unbelonging?

Because people are not curious enough”, was Preeti’s comment. She stressed on the importance of knowing about who lives next to you; knowledge brings enlightenment.

Paramjit added on to say that these stories are rarely told, Preeti’s work is a first attempt at bringing out these to the world. He has spent about 9 years in the north-east, his better half is from Shillong, has a lot of Khasi and Naga friends and would like to belong to the place. However, his features mark him out otherwise and that adds to the sense of unbelonging.

The ‘populist factor’, the deep-rooted belief that the “son of the soil” should get recognition is prevalent in various parts of our country. Paramjit gave a few examples wherein the north eastern states are moving towards populism – the Mizoram association is making people pledge not to marry outsiders. The Meghalaya state government has passed an ordinance which mandates outsiders to register themselves if they are staying beyond 24 hours in the state and there is a law in the making about Khasi girls losing their rights if they marry outsiders.


If we come into populist pressure, the concept of India will be lost” – Paramjit


The audience was so much into the emotions expressed by Jahnavi, Preeti, and Paramjit, that there were not many questions. The parting note was a question, “When you write, what is your primary emotion?” For Jahnavi, they are – a need to express, deep nostalgia, some sense of loss. Paramjit had only one word for it – anguish. A realization of what unbelonging truly means….and a wish for ‘belonging’ to set in soon in an integrated India – these are the feelings that the audience parted with.





About the Author: Usha Ramaswamy craves to get more creative in addition to being an avid reader, traveller, vlogger, marketer of events, mobile photographer. One day, she wants to write a book but for now, she pens her reflections at her blog and puts up photos on instagram. She also works as a software process consultant and is a mother of two. She currently writes for TheSeer.