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Happy, not elated, says Namita Gokhale on Dylan winning Nobel

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Eminent author and co-founder of Literary Festival (JLF), Namita Gokhale, said she was "happy, but not elated" that American song writer and singer Bob Dylan was awarded this year's Nobel Prize in Literature.

She said, "John Lennon comes first."

"I am happy that Bob Dylan has got it because it recognises the role of lyrics and popular culture. I always feel that in music and poetry the barriers are down when they write. And Bob Dylan did the same thing.

"Having said that, I would have been delighted if it was posthumous and John Lennon had got it. To me, Lennon was a great poet," Gokhale said, during the first public reading of her new book "Things to Leave Behind" at Sahitya Akademi's Kathasandhi programme last evening.

Notwithstanding others who are rather "perturbed or upset" with the Nobel committee for recognising Dylan for Literature, she said she understood peoples' criticism because they have "more traditional interpretation" of things.

"To be frank, I have problem with prizes. I don't believe with the exact and immediate ennoblement that comes with the prize. What I am happy about is that: popular culture is taking on the joys and responsibility of literature," she said.

Talking about JLF's next edition, which is scheduled to begin on January 19, 2017, the writer said it was difficult to comprehend the legacy of this giant of a literature festival.

"Hundreds of thousand of people have come to JLF in the last 10 years. As for the impact, I think these are intangible things, may be someone writing a novel on this after 15-20 years will be able to tell better.

"Spoken or written words leave an echo behind and find new resonance. JLF is a very sacred spot. It's great that many more festivals have come around, but they are doing good because they are interpreting literary experience in their own way," the author said.

The penwoman who has 14 books to her credit said that it was the words of one of her editors that tempted her to write her latest book, that has stories from her native place, Kumaon.

"I distinctly remember the day when an editor called me and said that you are growing old, and time has come for you to write your big book. He also said that your big book should be rooted in Kumaon," the writer, who is currently working on a children's book, also set on the same landscape, said.

Reading extracts from her new book, Gokhale also shared an

anecdote about how the title "actually came from a to-do list".

"I had to travel economy class, and the baggage was just too much. For that I made out a list: Things to leave behind. So, yes it came from a to-do list," she said.

The book, which has been written in third person, has stories which the author said are "memories of people and things and "not a researched book entirely".

"The book tells that it's not the human heart that changes with time, but the inputs from the society. It will acquaint you with many traditions of Kumaon," she said.

Asked if it was possible for an author to leave behind their works when they are creating new ones, she said, "Once I finish the book I forget about it".

"When you a complete a book there is a feeling of lightness. Because these characters, these situations that you have carried on your head for a long time, can now be left behind.

"In any creativity, sub-consciously we have the capacity to carry everything. But, in conscious manner, we have to leave things to create something new. For creativity to arise, some of the old things have to be forgotten," she said.

Talking about her fascination for Kumaon and the hills, the 60-year-old writer said that telling the stories from her land was a "duty" for her.

"Otherwise all this will be forgotten. I am always searching for my Kumaon," she said.

First Published: Tue, October 18 2016. 14:22 IST