Excerpts from Anita Nair’s conversation with Somnath Batabyal at the Jaipur Literature Festival. The event also saw the launch of Nair’s book Idris Keeper of the Light.

Nine Faces of Being – Anita Nair in conversation with Somnath Batabyal

Book launch of Idris Keeper of the Light

Jan 20

At the Jaipur Literature Festival, Anita Nair showed off her multitudinous personality at a morning session in the British Airways Baithak. She introduced her new book Idris Keeper of the Light alongside her many other faces as a writer, with journalist Somnath Batabyal quizzing her about her craft.

Idris keeper light Nine Faces of Being  Jaipur Literature Festival
Describing an intimate relationship she has with her books, Nair said that she leaves bits of herself on the page and that her novels are like her children. “I’m kind of schizophrenic,” Nair said more than once in describing her creative process. Taking full advantage of the opportunity authors are given to “explore worlds they’re not familiar with,” this well-established author now lets the voices of the characters take over and speak through her.


She has become much more assured as she has matured as a writer and now speaks confidently about how she can “write about diamond prospecting as if I was there,” referencing Idris, which follows a Somalian trader in 17th century Kerala. With a penchant for historical fiction and desire to slide through genre, Nair is no stranger to research, which she does meticulously, even for years before putting the first word on the page. At the same time Nair sees herself as a writer of the moment: “when I put my pen down and turn the page, it’s over.”

The many faces of Anita Nair refers not only to her diverse subjects as a novelist, but also her other creative outlets including drama, screenplays, children’s books, poetry, and essays. Each form serves a different function for this literary talent who writes because she is compelled to. Unable to relate to formulaic commercial authors, Nair insisted that “a book is not a refrigerator, it’s not a toaster” or any other product. “It’s a piece of art.”

By Krysten Maier

Also See:
I, Me and My Plays–Jaipur Literature Festival
Casualties of Love and Sex–Jaipur Literature Festival
The Bone Season–Jaipur Literature Festival

Image Source:Anita Nair@facebook

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