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Love, lust & longing in the land of erotica.

Sub- continental writing on sex gets apush with anovel attempt at an anthology, which is all about the romps of the imagination

WHAT'S a collection of 13 erotic short stories supposed to read like? Would it be written solely to arouse the readers, and hence their reading interest? Or would it be a piece of literature with a central theme and a fair bit of sex thrown in?

Ruchir Joshi, novelist and documentary film-maker, who has edited Electric Feather, explains that it's entirely meant to arouse the reader's interest, even as the writers seduce the reader with their active imagination in the form of spread limbs, pert nipples brushing against chest hair, and the promise of far better things to come.

From a romp of two best friends at a Bengali wedding to a late-20s guy losing his virginity, to a love affair between the sun and the air, to a woman who finally learns how to climax -- the stories are fun, uninhibited and imaginative as they explore heterosexual, gay and lesbian sex, infidelity, lust and longing with equal passion.

Joshi, who launched the book in the capital recently, with belly dancers entertaining the guests, says the purpose of assembling this anthology was to awaken the deep buried sexual desire among people in the land of the Kamasutra, which is now under threat from the complete or part Talibanisation of erotic literature.

Repairing Brindavan, as Joshi has titled the introduction of Electric Feather, sums up the dilemmas authors confront while writing erotic literature.

Would writing about sex for the sake of sex ( as one of the authors has asked) push writers from their lofty pedestal to the ranks of sleazy pornographers? Would an invitation to write about sex amount to bad writing about sex ( which quite a few Indian writers have been accused of in the past)? The editor says the refusals -- some pretty vehement ones, some downright disdainful -- from some of the top- notch authors in this part of the world went on to expose the inhibitions of readers in the sub- continent too.

Inviting south Asian writers to write on sex is Joshi's attempt to do away with the Victorian prudishness and crass commercialisation of sex that the readers have gotten used to. The idea driving this book is fairly simple: If a book on food makes you salivate, a book on sex must awaken your desires. T HE writers whose stories appear in the book are: Samit Basu, Paromita Vohra, Sheba Karim, Abeer Hoque, Sonia Jabbar, Niven Govinden, Kamila Shamsie, Rana Dasgupta, Tishani Doshi, Jeet Thayil, Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan, Parvati Sharma and Joshi, of course. Some of the writers are well- known and the rest have been selected by Joshi for their spunk and promise seen in their relationship with the pen/ keyboard.

What the book scores on is to open the imagination of the readers to the myriad ways of looking at sex, as the individual imagination of each of the 13 authors runs riot with romps across continents, space and time. A quick glimpse of a few pages of the book won't give away the gender of the writer, and that's good news to a literary world that is known more to pander to male desires.

If the most celebrated book of erotic literature in the world, Delta of Venus by AnaE[macron]s Nin, was written for the practical purpose of paying the author's rent, as Joshi points out, wouldn't an invitation to write on sex plant more seeds of imagination in the writers' mind? In moving the readers away from the tried and tested images of novels listed under the category of ' Lust' in bookstores and from the Internet teeming with pornographic sites, Electric Feather has started a passionate affair between the written word and sex, as it lies buried deep in our thoughts. The coming together of the two is good news for south Asian writers waiting to explore erotica in a far more unabashed way than it has been tried after Vatsyayana.

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Sep 27, 2009
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