The UEA’s writing workshop with Amit Chaudhuri: “A Portrait”

02 March 2016
This image has been used for representational purposes only.
Margaret Bourke-White/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
This image has been used for representational purposes only.
Margaret Bourke-White/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

The University of East Anglia’s (UEA) eight-day writing workshop in India was first held in March 2013, and, since then, has occurred twice a year. There have been workshops in both fiction and non-fiction, and in writing that occupies the boundary between the two. My co-tutors so far have been the novelist Romesh Gunesekera, historian and writer Patrick French, novelist Kirsty Gunn, poet and novelist Jeet Thayil, journalist Ian Jack, and novelist Adam Foulds.

The intent of the workshop was to bring excellent young writers in contact with each other and with well-known and established practitioners so that it could hopefully lead to an opening up of opportunities. This has begun to happen: some of the writers in the first workshops have now signed up with major Indian publishers.

My co-tutors and I have read a lot of outstanding work in the course of the last three years, and this partnership with The Caravan is meant to offer to a wider readership a small fraction of the best output from the workshop.

I’m neither a product of creative writing teaching nor an evangelist for it, and I don’t believe in the usefulness to apprentice writers of writing exercises. And yet I did introduce an exercise in the last two years: of asking writers to respond to, in any way they chose, to a text–an extract from a novel; a story or poem; an essay–from a selection of texts handed out to them.

Sunandini Pande Ray was in the December 2015 workshop.Her story is a response to Susan Sontag’s essay on Walter Benjamin, "Under the Sign of Saturn." This story is a part of a selection from the workshop that will be featured on The Caravan. Read other stories from the selection here, here and here.

Sunandini Pande Ray Sunandini Pande Ray studied Media and Communications at MICA, India and at the London School of Economics, following which she has been a researcher of human behaviour for close to a decade, in India and the Middle East. She was in the December 2015 workshop.

Keywords: fiction photographs Amit Chaudhuri
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