Writing and Recognition Are Different

Garima Tiwari with Geetanjali Shree

Garima Tiwari with Geetanjali Shree

The International Booker Prize-winning author reflects on her writing process and other facets at a Kalam session

There is no end to what audiences in India and abroad can learn from the International Booker Prize winner, Geetanjali Shree. Prabha Khaitan Foundation, under its Kalam initiative, organized a special session with Shree in Bilaspur. Garima Tiwari, Ehsaas Woman of Bilaspur, was in conversation with Shree, who opened the discussion by observing that the Foundation is doing remarkable work in the field of literature.

When asked about her 35-year-long literary journey, from the publication of her first story in 1987 to winning the International Booker Prize in 2022, Shree said that writing a story and winning the prize do not go in the same direction. “A writer moves forward only through his or her writing,” she said. “The paths to authorship and recognition are distinct, and the two should not be viewed together.”

In response to a question about renowned writer Krishna Sobti, whom Shree reveres, the International Booker winner said that Sobti used to encourage writers, especially young and new ones. “She was as influential as her writings were,” Shree said. “Her personality and writings had the same characteristics. She was a book in herself, and you got inspired just by being in her company.” Shree shared with the Bilaspur audience that when her novel, Ret Samadhi, came out, the first review was written by Sobti.

 “A writer moves forward only through his or her writing.”

“While writing, I do not think about readers or audiences,” said Shree, while commenting on her writing process. “When you think too much about them, your writing process gets affected. Writers never know whether readers would connect with their writing or not, whether they will welcome it or not. While we write, we do not think about success, but are ready to fail completely.” Does she feel any pressure as a writer after winning the International Booker Prize? “What kind of pressure?” asked Shree, in response. “In true writing, pressure does not come from outside, but from within. This is a writer’s own challenge.”

The author also read out an excerpt from Ret Samadhi. Several members of the audience asked Shree questions about writing, awards and language, all of which she answered patiently and humbly. Tiwari thanked Shree and the literature lovers present at the event on behalf of the Foundation as well as Ehsaas Women, Abhikalp Foundation and the media partner, Nai Duniya.

Kalam Bilaspur was supported by Shree Cement Limited as their CSR initiative in association with Courtyard by Marriott, Abhikalp Foundation, media partner Nai Duniya and with the support of Ehsaas Women of Bilaspur.