THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: War refugees are often left out from travel accounts and focusing on refugee literature will help discover new aspects of travel literature, said Shobhana Bhattacharji, member of the advisory board of the International Byron Society. She was delivering the keynote address at the inaugural session of the national seminar on ‘Narrating Travel, Mapping Identities’ at the Senate Chamber, University of Kerala, Palayam, on Monday.
“Travel writing needs to be factual, linear and objective,” she said to the students assembled for the event. Her talk ‘Travel writing in India and the West’ analysed the relation between India and the west in travel writing. She delved on the two streams of mountain travel writings of the 1930s - the scientific and the Christian mystical mountain travel writing - and explored its relation to narrative and identity.
The talk also laid due emphasis on refugee literature and analysed contemporary migrant and refugee works from Pakistan. ‘Exit West’ by Mohsin Hamid and ‘A Time of Madness: A Memoir of Partition’ by Salman Rashid were examined in the category. She said Rashid’s book was the ‘true’ travel book to her.“In lucid, unembellished prose, Rashid writes of a journey of places and people. It is much more powerful than fictional travel,” she said. Noting that travel writing should always have a real journey, she stressed the strength of travel writers is in their attention to facts.
Kerala State Higher Education Council vice-chairman Rajan Gurukkal, who gave the inaugural address stressed upon different techniques and forms of ‘narrative’ and traced its contribution in shaping society’s development over centuries.
The three-day seminar on travel writing organised by the Institute of English, University of Kerala, will have plenary sessions on travel writing by noted academicians and travel writers. The seminar which will see academic discussions on travel writing will delve into the possibilities of academic research in travel writing and sharing of experiences by travel writers. Travel writers, academicians and students are set to present several papers at the seminar.