International writing faculty
Sharmistha Mohanty (Fiction)
Sharmistha Mohanty is the author of two novels, Book One and New Life, as well as Broken Nest and Other Stories, a translation of Rabindranath Tagore's fiction. Mohanty is founder-editor of the online literature journal Almost Island, (www.almostisland.com), and the initiator of the Almost Island Dialogues, an annual international writers meet held in New Delhi. She studied fiction at the Iowa Writers Workshop. She lives in Mumbai.
Mohanty is the recipient of a Senior Fellowship awarded by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. She was also awarded a fellowship by the Akademie Schloss Solitude in Germany.
To discover what is individual in each one; to look for the aberrations, the uncertainties, where the beginning writer is not like others, but like himself-- an idea informed by my involvement with the thousand year old teaching tradition of Indian classical music which has always been, and still is, one on one.
Excerpts of her work
The traveler knows that the landscape is never a metaphor, it does not stand for something else, but only for itself. He watches the land, and himself. He watches himself moving through the land. It is watching that he trusts. He is not an explorer. His courage is of unknown provenance.
...that what he paints is outside time, what he paints is not a moment that will pass. That the movement of sun and shadow and light will introduce time and so inevitably its consequence, suffering. In the end what he paints is a landscape of belief, not doubt. He does not want to erase suffering, but he wants his paintings to hold it like the hills hold their ore. (painting Manaku)
I sit alone, I lie alone. There is only the inside landscape. It has its own laws, not that of the man made world, not even that of nature. Perhaps I should not call it a landscape. It is more like something that flies over and away from the dead earth of circumstance and the narrative of birth to death.
Wherever I may be now, only love and solitude remain. They take on each other's dimensions.
The sub-continent, full of abandon, knows neither repentance, nor mistakes, nor redemption, it only knows how to live everything and put it all behind, seasons and history and geological change.
This is a detached landscape, but always watching, alert, never allowing anything to be lulled into forgetting. Perhaps these Himalayas are the other, the stranger to our tropical landscape of rain and heat, rising suddenly out of the earth to help us recognise ourselves.
The birds do not return to their trees. They skim the flames that someone has already lit in the grotto without ever burning their wings. Inside the house a luminous soul fights the darkening patina of need. There is utter silence as this need searches for an entirely new moral sense with which to look at itself. The search will begin here, but go far afield, through people and places in other continents.
And the visitors who come from lands where confidence grows wild watch the street but in the end find no beauty where want exists, do you mean to say poverty is alright, they are so sure of universal values, so sure of the universe.
In this grey, empty cave, time assumes its rightful dimensions. There is nothing here to distil it into eternity. The poise of thousands of years is different from a few hundred. Hills are hacked into caves, trade routes change their course like rivers, and what people learn covers over what they used to know, like a new continent covering a sea, for the mind is finite like the earth, these caves are abandoned, left to animals and birds who are equally, the Buddha said, Bodhisattvas...