Kuzhali Manickavel doesn’t think like everyone else. Nor does she write like anyone else. When you read her stories it’s like opening a Pandora’s box where weird and beautiful things are wildly juxtaposed and the words and images etch themselves into your brain.
Lily Mae Martin sees the world with a clarity few can match. Her art captures myriad visions of exquisite beauty and strangeness. She is scarily talented.
Perhaps its because the editors were all so in awe of both these artists that we decided to matchmake them.
Their creation is the graphic short story – The Wednesday Room. Every time I read it, I find something new in the words and illustrations. One review described it as ‘whimsical’ but it’s more than that – it’s subtle and clever and cheeky at the same time as being perplexing and thought-provoking.
Lily Mae’s rendering of Kavya, a girl who can see supernatural beings, is as perfect fusion of sombreness and fantastical cuteness. Kabya’s beloved monster companion is at risk of disappearing from her world if she conforms to her society’s demands. It’s magical thinking at its best.
Urvashi Butalia is the founder of the publishing house Zubaan. Without her visionary work, Anita, Payal and I wouldn’t have had the chance to bring so many varied Indian voices together for Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean.
Urvashi is not only a publisher but a an award-winning author. In this TED talk, Urvashi talks about the importance of writing fearlessly and of helping everyone to share their stories.
In November last year, Isobelle Carmody and I travelled to India to participate in a whirlwind three city tour to celebrate the release of the Indian edition of Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean.
Our first stop was Delhi where we teamed up with Priya Kuriyan and Anita Roy for events at the Australian High Commission, Jawaharlal Nehru University and Oxford Bookstore.
I first met Priya on the morning we launched the anthology to hundreds of secondary school students on the lawns of the Australian High Commission. For some reason, I’d gained the impression from her emails that she was a little shy but in person she was a funny, articulate and sassy presenter who spoke confidently and with ease to the crowds of teenagers.
This week, the Centre for Youth Literature, based here in Melbourne, announced the full line-up for their 2015 Reading Matters Conference and I was thrilled to see Priya’s name featured in multiple events on the programme. Priya will be presenting in solo and panel sessions and also in the school’s days program as well.
Program Coordinator Adele Walsh has put together a colossal seven day program of events for the biggest celebration of youth literature in Australia to date. It’s great to see an artist as talented as Priya having the opportunity to charm audiences downunder.