What’s common to writers Neel Mukherjee, Mohammed Hanif, and Anjali Joseph? All of them are alumni of the creative writing programme at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK. And now, a little slice of the same programme is in its seventh edition in India.
Conducted twice a year at Kolkata, the creative writing workshop is piloted by novelist and essayist Amit Chaudhuri – who is also a UEA Professor of Contemporary Literature – and, usually, another writer. The workshops focus, by turn, on fiction and non-fiction.
This is probably the shortest distance in India between a creative writing workshop and getting published. Four of the participants in earlier workshops have signed up for books with a well-known publisher in Delhi, and some of the stories are being published online by Caravan magazine. Other participants are going on to join full-fledged global Masters in Fine Arts courses.
In the current edition, running between March 7 and 13, Chaudhuri is joined by novelist Anjali Joseph, winner of the Betty Trask award, Desmond Elliott Prize, and the Crossword Book Award. With participants from all over the country and abroad, this is probably India’s only truly international creative writing workshop.
Says Chaudhuri, ‘I’m not a product myself of a creative writing school. I was sceptical, but I noticed it benefits writers. If the environment is conducive and the process is right, you can incubate good writers.’
Chaudhuri’s own books are, of course, bear testimony to craft, even without a formal creative writing course behind him. His first published work, A Strange And Sublime Address, signalled a distinct new voice in Indian writing in English – a voice that has gone on to become a powerful one.