Anjum Katyal is an editor, writer, translator and critic. She is the author of Habib Tanvir: Towards an Inclusive Theatre and the newly published Badal Sircar: Towards a Theatre of Conscience. She is currently the Director of the Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival and Consultant (Publications) for the Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Institute of Asian Studies.

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What early experience was it where you learned that language had power?

I remember my childhood as a voracious reader who never could stay apart from books. I used to read a wide variety of content, in fact, anything that I found around myself. I have always seen myself occupied in the world of books. I later went on to become an editor and having pursued Literature in my college days, I had discovered my urge to write long back.

How difficult, do you think, is the work of an editor? Being at a position to have known the works of many writers, what advice do you have for the aspiring ones?

I must confess that the job of a book editor demands a certain kind of temperament. I have come across people who perceive it as a glamorous work with the power to bring dramatic changes to the works of several writers, however, what they really need to understand is that a work of an editor is an off-stage kind of a job. An editor must remember that all what he is doing is merely a service towards making someone else’s book better. He ought to maintain the temperament that allows him to remain unflappable in the most tedious of times and one that schools him to keep his ego under control.

We can notice an upsurge in the hastening of things these days. People seem to be in a haste to read, write as well as to get their works published. I may not label it as good or bad as every generation has its own way of doing things. However, I honestly feel that the level of concentration and investment of time have dwindled, unlike the early times when we had writers like William Faulkner or Henry James. My piece of advice to the aspiring writers is to have with them plenty of time after completing their work to be able to muse on it and also that they must never hurry to get it published.

There are so many authors flooding in with an intent to get their works published, however, the number of publishing houses stands limited. What is your take on that?

I may not entirely agree with it as I look back to the times when I had newly become an editor and it was wise to call the number of publishing houses to be limited only back then. However, now the times have changed and we have a rather large number of publishing houses showing immense interest in the works of potential writers as compared to the early times. Before we had a few illustrious publishing houses specialized in their respective techniques but now we have a countless number of organisations that are somewhat overlapping and doing a similar kind of work.

Being a director of a literature festival yourself, what is that one thing you think needs to change in them?

I honestly believe that many literature festivals nowadays have become interchangeable. We walk into a festival, come across the same set of authors and some similar hackneyed discussions. What I think really needs to change is that they must start having a sense of individuality. I feel that there is an urgent need for the Literature festivals to start differentiating themselves from one another and this can be achieved only once they identify the very idea behind their own inception.

What are you looking forward to in the upcoming Art and Literature Festival, 'Valley of Words'?

It is very rare when a festival stands out by its way of having an unusual set of authors focusing on some unconventional and distinctive ideas. It is the very sense of distinctiveness that I am looking forward to in the Valley of Words. Moreover, it is the location where the festival is conducted that makes much of the difference as it brings a remarkable change in the ambience. I, thereby, am looking forward to the Valley of Words with much enthusiasm as it is going to be conducted in a beautiful city .

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