It is difficult to know who you're writing for
Three renowned Sri Lanka-based authors attended Day 2 of Sahitya Aaj Tak, the annual literary festival in Delhi, on Saturday. Speaking at the session titled 'Writings from Sri Lanka', one of the novelists, author of the books Reef and Noontide Toll- Romesh Gunesekera said, "I never set out to write about conflict. Other than conflict you have in any personal situation."
"When my first books were being published, it happened to coincide with the time things started happening in Sri Lanka and I had some stories that were set there. I felt my fiction had to negotiate a reality that was changing in uncomfortable ways," he added.
When author Chimmi Tenduf-La was asked if he thinks identity plays a parts in what he writes, he said, "Because I'm a foreigner who has lived in Sri Lanka for a very long time, I believe I can observe things in a way other people take for granted... My identity certainly makes it easier to write."
Similarly, Romesh Gunesekera and author Ashok Ferrey spoke about their time spent in other countries like the Philippines and Somalia which impacted their writing and identity.
On the changes seen in his readership from the years when Sri Lanka was hit by conflict to now, Romesh Gunesekera agreed with Ashok Ferrey that it is difficult to know who you're writing for.
"When I started writing, I came from an understanding of the world that nobody would probably read what you write. My expectations were very very low. They are not much higher now buy you do a build a sort of relationship with the readers," the Reef author said.
Chimmi Tenduf-La agreed with Ashok Ferrey that back in the time when they started writing, stories about conflict could be full of humour, showing how the Sri Lankans perceive war but no people react to those things differently. Chimmi Tenduf-La added that the public's reaction to the Easter attack in Sri Lanka was panic and people writing stories now would perceive it differently than the older times.