Monday, November 06, 2006

San Francisco Library’s Second Annual South Asian Writers Reading Event held at SF Public Library on Saturday, November 4

Roshni Rustomji-Kerns and another writer read their short stories. Rustomji’s story was titled “South going woman, north going woman.” Rhoda Sohrabji, the protagonist, grows up in the US, where she was transplanted from India when she was four; she now lives in Oaxaca where one day she gets involved with a network of people sympathetic to Oaxaca’s indigenous uprising; Rhoda gets to listen to stories of communal riots in India and ethnic strife in San Francisco. “South going woman, north going woman” appeared partly autobiographical--the only question being if Rustomji really took that dangerous ride in Oaxaca’s mountains to give safe company to a rebel. With the latest bout of political upheaval in Oaxaca—Mexico still struggling with its identity and notions of equality and justice, five centuries after the arrival of Conquistadores—Roshni Rustomji’s piece was timely and pertinent. It had humor sprinkled in good amount too. “If my kind of Indios aren’t allowed to rule Mexico, then your kind of Indios can rule Mexico.”

The other writer read English translation of his Urdu story. The translation was done by Moazzam Sheikh, widely known for his translation of Intizar Hussain and other Urdu writers’ work.

Most people in the audience were themselves writers, a self-supported community (members satisfying each other’s desire to be heard)—strong testimony to declining popularity of fiction writing as an art form. Why read or be read to when you can watch a movie?

(Picture shows Roshni Rustomji-Kerns and Moazzam Sheikh)

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