A SENSE OF A BEGINNING
It started when a feeling of surprise began to take root in me sometime in 2009. It was a softer kind of a surprise that one feels abruptly when one is in a contemplative mood: that even after a near-zero contact with the Telugu literature for almost twenty-five years, I am still inspired by a hope in it.
Perhaps being in one’s own homeland shapes everything. By this I mean that being an immigrant also shapes everything. This state, of being out of one’s homeland, brings out a jarring feeling but we somehow manage to keep it under control. However, there is a tendency among us to drown out this wordless, soundless feeling of fracture by rising above it but not attending to it. By not attending to it, I think we short-change ourselves. We give this feeling of fracture only a marginal status.
I say this because this feeling of fracture can really be a source of immense inspiration to write sincere books, if only we allow it to inspire us. The phrase “of belonging,” that comes rushing in to us whenever we think of the homeland is, after all, where all of us finally rest our hopes for reconciliation of whatever it is that we ran away from, in our own souls, I think. This longing for a home, this yearning for a sense of belonging, is for every being: for a region, for a relationship, or for a relationship with God. I find it particularly striking that in almost everything that a woman writes, this feeling of fracture is there.
It often occurs to me that entering and exiting the homeland and living in and living away tempers our moods and tempers how careless and careful we are about the condition of a human being. These are the moments when we become sensitive, and become aware of where we are being careless and where we are being careful, in this rather existential sense. When literature considers this difference seriously, then, I think, it becomes a careful literature.
There is a significant shift we experience when we read works of literature with an eye towards this difference. We somehow feel, often without sufficient proof, that we have come to know what the author was struggling with his or her sense of being homeless. For example, whenever I come across a passage with a lot of pesky argumentative description of the character’s appearance by the author, I feel that to be an awkward intrusion into the privacy of the character. You see, I do believe there is such a thing called privacy of the character, and such intrusions are careless. They appear to emerge out of the writer’s overconfidence to write out a character. That, then, cannot be a careful literature. Accumulated moments like these over the years arose in me a desire to seek out what this careful literature in Telugu can be, one that can help find a home for this feeling of fracture in all of us. It made sense to form Saaranga as a means to keep this meditative feeling intact.
With Saaranga as a means, I want to publish literary works that not only the readers enjoy reading but equally important, the writers like to read and read again. My selections of the books to publish and ones not to publish will be driven by my belief that if the readers are provided with a variety of mix such as the literary fiction, poetry, memoirs, literary non-fiction, thoughtful reviews of literary works, that would in turn help increase the critical literary interest and general readership. With regard to literary criticism in particular, I am a big believer that if only we can develop our own Frank Kermodes, John Bayleys, James Woods and George Steiners, the possibilities in our Telugu literature can only be imagined. It is indeed up to the reader and the writer in all of us to shape this vision into reality. I hope Saaranga can be a catalyst in that shaping.
Raj Karamchedu, November 2010