You Cannot Have All The Answers and other stories Author: Deepa Agarwal Publisher: Niyogi Books
You Cannot Have All the Answers, a collection of short stories, takes on lifes unanswered questions while dealing with issues like trauma, sexuality and prejudice.
The book was launched at Lecture Hall II, Annexe (Basement), India International Centre in the presence of Keki N. Daruwalla, Major Indian Poet and Short Story Writer, Namita Gokhale, Indian writer, Publisher and Festival Director and Malashri Lal, Writer and Academic, Former Professor, Department of English, University of Delhi at 6:30 p.m.
started with Trisha De Niyogi, publisher at Niyogi Books welcoming the eminent
litterateurs followed by the unveiling of the book.
way discussion took place starting with Malashri Lal asking Deepa about the
idea behind naming the book. She also stated that Deepa is known for the
wonderful works she has done for the children and today’s novelists somewhat
lack this quality. Deepa Agarwal before answering these queries thanked Niyogi
Books for publishing the title. She stated that she attempts to find the answers to
her questions and her short stories are the evident outcome of this quest. ‘But
it is not possible ever for one to find all the answers.’ And hence the title
of the book.
The next comment came from Namita Gokhale. She referred to the very popular folktales of Vikram and Vetal and Chandrakanta, and expressed her likeness for the Indian style of storytelling. She genuinely praised the author as: ‘A sceptic and pragmatic writer yet rooted and grounded.’ She observed that Deepa Agarwal writes both for children and adult readers, and asked her: ‘How does it come when you write stories for children? Is there any particular discipline that you maintain while writing?’
To that Deepa responded that the treatment has to be different according to the age group of the readers. When writing for children, having five grandchildren, looking through their (children’s) eye view, and drawing from her own treasure trove of childhood memories characteristically help her in composing the stories. They have to be less ambiguous and more explanatory, unlike when writing for adults—when mystification and less disclosure makes the narration more interesting.
To give the audience a taste of the short story collection in discussion, Malashri read out from one of the more ‘adult’ stories—‘The Stuff of Our Dreams’—and lines like, “No dream is ever false…” and “Find the mad woman from the streets and find yourself…” resonated through the auditorium hall.
Keki N. Daruwala read out from the end part of the story titled ‘The Crossing’. ‘Brilliant’ was the compliment he gave to this one. When Malashri prompted that he must have been able to relate more to the partition story, ‘The Cradle Song’, for his previous writings on the subject, he expressed that he had felt that this one must have been the most difficult story to write in the book because, it is a fable set amidst a city. ‘It is very touching,’ he said, ‘and the best part of her (Deepa Agarwal’s) writing is that her treatment is original.’
The discussions on Deepa Agarwal’s narrative techniques continued. Malashri observed that the time zone of stories in YOU CANNOT HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS expand over a long period of time and asked the author for the reason behind it. To that the author replied: ‘Writing a story is like composing poetry. Memories, overheard conversations and research play key roles. The construction is perhaps more deliberate now. Earlier I used to let the stories grow on their own.’
Price: Rs 350
‘Some stories begin at the beginning and some at the end. And in some it’s hard to say where the beginning is and where the end.’
You Cannot Have All the Answers, a collection of fifteen short stories, offers a glimpse into the conflicting emotions that define the human condition, and attempts to seek answers to a variety of existential questions.
Including The Asian Age short-story competition winner, Cradle Song, these narratives deal with issues like trauma, sexuality, prejudice, family relations, and the recklessness of youth.
Author, poet and translator, Deepa Agarwal writes for both children and adults and has over 50 books published. Among other awards, she received the NCERT National Award for Children’s Literature in 1993, and has been featured on the IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People) Honour List, 2008.
Niyogi Books has been at the forefront in recognising, encouraging and promoting both new talent and eminent writers in the field of book writing.