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Kriti Festival 2014 Call for Submissions

Deadline June 30

Kriti Festival of Arts and Literature Call for Submissions
September 25 – 28, 2014
University of Illinois at Chicago

DesiLit is pleased to welcome submissions to its upcoming festival of arts and literature, to be held in Chicago, Sepember 25 – 28, 2014.

Submissions are welcome in the following areas:

  • literature (fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, drama)
  • film
  • music
  • dance
  • visual arts

If your work is selected, you’ll be invited to serve on panels and/or give a reading/screen a film/give a performance/etc. Panelists will receive free festival registration, and if there are funds remaining after expenses, a share of the proceeds towards reimbursing their travel expenses. We’ll also do our best to match you with local volunteer hosts if desired.

To have your work considered please send an electronic sample to with the subject line: KRITI SUB [title of work / your name], following these guidelines:

  • a brief bio, PLUS one of the following
  • literature sample (up to 20 pages)
  • film sample (up to 20 minutes; if you want to send a longer film, be aware that we may only view the first 20 minutes)
  • music sample (up to 20 minutes)
  • dance sample (up to 20 minutes)
  • image sample (up to 5 images)

For large sound/graphic files, we STRONGLY prefer that you host the work on your own site and send us a pointer to the URL, or submit via Google Drive or Dropbox. If you wish to submit in multiple genres, please submit each sample separately.

For a sample of our 2005, 2007, and 2009 panelists, please visit If you have any questions, please contact

DEADLINE: June 30, 2014

Akhil Sharma Mulls on “A Mistake”

Writer Akhil Sharma has an excerpt from his forthcoming novel Family Life entitled “A Mistake” featured in the latest edition of The New Yorker. It is filled with the kind of engrossing details that first-generation immigrants from any nation will recognize, from the wonderment at all the conveniences to confusion at all the seeming sameness. Endless adjustments, to school, to work, to home, and to the comforts of a post-industrial nation both delight and frustrate the narrator as he details his first few years as an Indian in America. An ordinary red shag carpet in a one-bedroom apartment in Queens, NY becomes a thing of luxury, conjuring feelings of “stepping onto a painting.” The stories in Family Life are based in part on Sharma’s real-life experiences and loved ones, and here he reflects upon his deliberate choice to dwell in fiction instead of memoir:

I think one can be more honest in fiction than in a memoir. For me, memoir, because it claims to be factually true, restricts my ability to use dialogue, since I remember only a few things that were said. It also hampers my ability to collapse time, because collapsing time takes events out of context. And I wanted to focus on only certain aspects of the experience; in a memoir, I would have felt obligated to include things, such as boredom, that don’t interest me artistically but were an important part of the experience.

To read more of Sharma’s story, click here. For more about Sharma’s experiences while writing his novel, click here.

Cyrus Mistry awarded the 2014 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature

Cyrus Mistry (younger brother of Rohinton Mistry) wins the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature for his novel Chronicle of a Corpse Bearer, a love story set in the Bombay amongst a community of Parsi corpse bearers. Below is an excerpt of the beginning:

“‘Oi, Elchi, you bloody drunkard! Still lolling in bed?’

There was no sound more revolting or hateful to the ears than that voice which plucked me rudely from my garden of dreams.

I was under the bower of the giant banyan with Seppy. Of all our numerous hideouts in the forest, this was her favorite. But in that instant, when Buchia’s hideous falsetto impinged on my consciousness, she was gone.”

read more here

an interview with Cyrus Mistry

Manto’s ‘Bombay Stories’.

Saadat Hasan Manto  continues to gain attention for his realist fiction which, back in the day, earned him the reputation of a pornogpraher. Translated by Matt Reeck and Aftab Ahmed, Bombay Stories is a collection of short stories set in Bombay.  Two of my favorite stories are about Khushia the pimp who realizes that he’s a manly man and Sarita, the child prostitute who is about to get into big trouble with her mother by the story’s end.

Review by Suketu Mehta in the Sunday New York Times.

Saadat Hasan Manto has a good claim to be considered the greatest South Asian writer of the 20th century. In his work, written in Urdu, he incarnated the exuberance, the madness, the alcoholic delirium of his time, when the country he loved cleaved into two and set upon each other, brothers of all religions murdering their infant nephews and raping their sisters-in-law.

Manto is best known for his stories about the partition of the subcontinent immediately following independence in 1947. Although he wrote essays, screenplays and one novel, Manto’s métier was the short story; he published more than 20 collections. He was an Indian F. Scott Fitzgerald, moving from north India to Bombay to sell his talents to the movie industry, and dying at 42, after a long struggle with alcoholism. read full here

Mourning Gabo

April is really the cruelest month.

We mourned the best of our writers this April. On the 17th day of it, Gabo left this world forever, leaving us forlorn, heart-broken.

Yes, it’s Marquez indeed that I talk about, and I do not refer to those mourners across the global literary podiums. This grief is from the hearts and literary sensibilities of the tens of thousands of Marquez readers in Kerala, the coconutland, that tiny geographical strip at the southern tip of the Indian peninsula. Yes, the same place which produced the first ever democratically elected communist government in the world, fully literate, with excellent development indices, and which exports about ninety percent of its manpower to geographies across the globe.

If you didn’t know it, Gabo was actually an NRK, or non-resident Keralite, and he, in fact, introduced YOU to OUR style of writing. You know it as magical realism, a technique which was prevalent in Malayalam literature, much much before you read Gabo’s works in Spanish. Our resident ace wordsmith, the late O V Vijayan, built his legendary world of ‘Khasak’ (Legends of Khasak) about the same time Gabo created Macondo in Spanish.

That’s right, we heard you; very few of us read Spanish, so when Gabo’s words took the world by fire, Malayalam was the very first language in the world which received his translations, of course after the English version of the book in 1970. He was one of us, so much one of us, that they even said that ‘Marquez is ‘the best known Keralite writer in Latin America’ and the ‘first Malayalam author who has won the Nobel.

Look, he just happened to live elsewhere and speak a different tongue.  But we gave him what he so deserved back home, a cult status. We named our children Marquez or Markose as we spell it here, we christened our homes, eateries and even a magazine after Macondo. We gobbled up whatever he wrote, and the generation of writers that grew up after Gabo penned his first book really believed in magical realism. When he first fell ill, we held prayer meetings on streets, and sent over a get-well card through a messenger, right to Mexico City, yes, with a lovely bouquet of flowers.

Yes, it also mattered to us that Che Guevara and Castro were his soul mates; in fact, we have an entire garment business running on these two guys.

At the annual film fests (yes, we are renowned for that too), we pulled down doors to the cinema halls, when they screened films made from Gabo’s works. We saw one of these just last year, ‘No One Writes to the Colonel’. We discussed Gabo’s words threadbare when his biography came out and wrote dissertations on them like no other people in the world.

Yes, we have loved our Victor Hugo, Kafka, Sartre, Camus and the entire range of Russian Masters. But there has been nobody like you Gabo. And there will never be.