MADURAI: In Madurai, E Reflin is already a published author with two titles — Restless Birds and The Venturesome Seven: The Tale of Mystery. The 18-year-old kickstarted her journey of words courtesy of the Book Guild of Madurai (BGM) and its founder, Nicholas Francis. So does MF Thorne, a Class 9 student, whose debut novel, “The Arcane Demons”, has garnered stellar responses.
On a mission to nurture young authors and turn the city author-friendly, the 53-year-old Nicholas has been organising storytelling sessions by experts, aside workshops involving reviewing, writing and listening to stories by peers. “It [BGM] is a platform for bibliophiles from different age groups and professions to connect and hold discussions,” says Vani Chenguttuvan, a historian and guild member.
For Mathangi Kalithas — one of the youngest members — the inspiration to pursue writing came her way when Nicholas hosted a seminar at her college. More than a bookclub, it is a unique, home-like space where bookworms seek shelter and inspiration, an open community where youngsters get a chance to evolve, she reveals.
In an age of virtualised content, BGM has pushed the gears backwards to set the goals for print reading to move forward, Dharani Kesavan, another word enthusiast and member, observes. Sarala Kannan, too, admits her generation has fallen into the webs of social media. It is an accepted convention for like-minded people to hit the cafes. Ernest Hemingway wrote some of the finest prose at a cafe near his apartment in Paris. Following a similar path, members of the guild, monthly, meet up at Cheese Corner in Chokkikulam.
Aside from reading sessions, the members go on excursions, one such being a recent trip to the Keezhadi excavation site. With the guild’s success, chapters were opened at three schools — Guhan Matric Higher Secondary School in Teppakulam, Visakan CBSE School in Madurai and Landis Matric Higher Secondary School in Natham, reveals Nicholas.
Mathangi praises the young members for their “brilliance and creativity.” “If we give them a single task, they will come out with ten different ideas for it,” she says. Nicholas also extends his gratitude to Collector Dr S Aneesh Sekhar.
The pursuit to revive the lost interest in print reading is on at Madurai and it seems like members of the guild are only warming up.
Registration forms at https://bookguildofmadurai.in/