Many literary conferences and festivals are so large that, by the time you get your bearings, it is time to go. Not so at Desilit’s Kriti Festival: The Midwest’s South Asian Literary Festival which was large enough to offer a bounty of panels and books and yet small enough to be accessible to all attendees. From the opening readings to guest of honor Manil’s Suri’s unforgettable presentation on his most recent novel ‘The City of Devi’, to a dizzying array of panel topics, Kriti Festival 2014 was one of those magical times where everyone was having such a great time– discussing books, attending panels and readings, making new friends, connecting with old ones– that going home was so sad an event many panelists coined a new term for it: ‘Kriti Withdrawal’. I was on six panels including ‘Memoir & Essay: Telling True Stories’ (with Lopa Banerjee, Fawzia Mirza, Preston Merchant), Selling Your First Book (with Dipika Mukherjee, Sonali Dev, Nayomi Munaweera), the delightful romp that was ‘Sex and the Word’ (with Mary Anne Mohanraj, Rajdeep Paulus, Mina Khan and Sonali Dev) and I moderated the much more somber panel ‘Trauma and Memory in South Asian Literature’ (with Mary Anne Mohanraj and Nayomi Munaweera) in which we discussed novels about Sri Lanka’s civil war, the Kashmir conflict, and the Sikh Golden Temple Massacre and more. I can still remember the days many many years ago when book shelves carried, if they would at all, Bharati Mukherjee, then Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, and then Manil Suri, and so, to now be amongst so much South Asian talent be it poets, playwrights, novelists, filmmakers, short stories writers, photographers, comedians and to see so much of their work and so many books being published and readily available is to arrive at a particularly wonderful station on this journey of South Asian American Literature. I returned home with a suitcase overflowing with memories and books and the knowledge that I belong to a lovely and warmhearted community of fellow writers, and that not only is Manil Suri a terrific storyteller but that he also possesses a wicked awesome sense of humor. Thank you Mary Anne Mohanraj and Neha Kumar for organizing Kriti and to all the sponsors. May you have many more. Kriti Withdrawal. It’s real. Because for many many many of us Kriti was coming home.
Brown Girl compiles a list of Top Ten Quotes heard at Kriti
The Aerogram write up on Kriti Festival 2014.
Saris and Stories write up on KF 2014.