I have been a part of Goa Writers Group – albeit a version 2 of the group that came out with this lovely anthology – Inside/Out: New Writing from Goa. It is a nice group of people – all of whom have probably only one thing in common that they write. It was a different experience to read this book for two reasons. The first is the diversity of pieces in this anthology – a melange of fiction, non-fiction, poetry & photography. Second, I know quite a few of the writers personally. Believe me, it is different to read someone you do not know vis-a-vis someone you know.
Knowing Goa writers a bit, each piece in the anthology would have gone through several rounds of constructive criticism. The editing is good and very homogeneous across pieces. The markers of the editor are there in every piece. I liked most pieces except the photography one – which I think was allowed to oblige the photographer. Images are amateurish and in black and white, they lost their sense completely.
I think by reading those I know, I got to know them a bit more. Sometimes I discovered a part of their personality like ‘walking’ of Isabel or ‘Biking’ of Kornelia. Some people like Aniruddh I meet often but got to read him for the first time. I remember Gadgil talking about his piece on ‘Ghanti’ once, so it was nice to read his detailed piece on it. Anyone who has moved to Goa in last 20 years or so would relate to it very well. Helene’s story of moving from London to Goa seems straight out of a film script. I am tempted to ask her how much of it is fiction!
Frederick Noronha who also happens to be the publisher of this book writes passionately about creating and running internet group Goanet – which also should have been listed as one of his babies. Fatima surprised me with her ability to write a full story based on a single family portrait. Aimee’s digging into the past of Catarina Orta is lovely. Wendell Rodricks talks about being international from Goa – he is a perfect example of what he is talking about.
Sucheta Potnis’s story of an air crash victims is touching. I now want to go and see those graves. Parva’s story about Chorao island and its suicides had me in disbelief. It is an island that I always think of as an island of peace and tranquility. On second thoughts, the reality would stay where it is, but my virtual reality of Goan islands is changed forever after reading this story.
Most people have had Goa somewhere in their pieces. However, the way the Goans write about Goa is so different from the way migrants or part-time residents write about it. Even with all his writing skills, Amitav Ghosh’s story of a Goan sailor misses the emotion that the story of a Savia Viegas has. Or, a story of Tony de Sa that takes you through the journey of a returning Goan. I love reading Damodar Mauzo‘s stories, but for this anthology, he gave them an excerpt from one of his popular novels. Looks like Goa writers wanted his name in the anthology and he just about – obliged.
Read More – From Mind to Keyboard – another anthology from Goa 1556
All the stories by Goans, especially the ones delving into the past told me about the strong connection Goa had with Africa. The number of Goans who worked in African countries and how they created Goan clubs there was an eye-opener.
As a resident of Panaji, I quite enjoyed the anthology Inside/Out: New Writing from Goa. If you are an outsider, some pieces may be a bit out of context for you. Having said that, you can still enjoy the warm intimacy of Goa in this writing.
I hope Goa Writers come out with another anthology soon enough. I know they are working on one.
All the best Goa Writers and Goa 1556.