BHUBANESWAR: An author of historical fiction is the connect between the past and the modern day society.
In the last session of the Odisha Literary Festival, ‘The Author as a Chronicler of History’, authors Ravi Shankar Etteth, Sumedha V Ojha and Rabishankar Bal said a historical fiction writer is a person who digs out other voices from history.
Ojha, the author of Urnabhih: A Mauryan Tale of Espionage, Adventure and Seduction, said a historical fiction writer brings the past to the present day readers in an interesting manner.
“We cannot term a historical fiction writer as a chronicler of history because what a chronicler does is an extended account in prose or verse of historical events. But what we do is reinterpret certain facets of history in our own way and present it to the readers in a captivating manner,” she said.
Bal, whose latest book Dozakhnama is an interaction between Urdu literary legends Manto and Ghalib from their respective graves in Delhi and Lahore, also opined that history is a contentious subject because authors try to recreate or reinterpret it in their own way.
Etteth, however, said history is completely immaterial from an individual context.
“Putting a character from the history into a story does not make sense if we have not read the history in detail. Like someone told me the other day, no one has time today to read the 8,000 pages of War and Peace. We live in times of instant gratification and unless we listen to the history carefully, we may actually miss the real story,” he said.
Speaking about her seven-year-long journey of writing Urnabhih, Ohja said she had to do a lot of research of texts, epics, sculptures and paintings before she began writing the draft on life of Chandragupta Maurya.
The session was chaired by Priya Kapoor, co-founder of Roli books.