Fiction Online

Ananya S Guha writes about the eFiction Magazine, a literary online journal which blends tradition with modernity

What do you say about a literary online journal which has songs and attempts sincerely to convert poems into songs? This is only one aspect of eFiction India the literary journal which publishes short fiction, poetry and now is also recording songs. Moreover, it is also establishing the credentials of a developing literary form – the flash fiction.

eFiction India is the off shoot of the parent journal eFiction published from the USA and which boasts of excellent short stories. I have had the fortune to review some of them.

However, eFiction India is a class apart as it also publishes short stories of very high standards and some excellent poems. It attempts at converting poetry into songs is a daring innovation in literature and the arts. Poetry and music have distinct affinities and I have always felt that a good poem is song like and lyrical. Similarly a very good song can be unfettered poetry at its height. The latest issue of eFiction India experiments with uploading a song on the theme of eFiction. I have heard it and it will certainly give to the journal an exquisite piece of literary talent and a new genre in today's daring world of innovation and experiment in literature, music and the arts. Many professedly literary journals both online and print are publishing a melange of literature, the fine arts and extracts from popular songs. But the distinction of eFiction India is that it is attempting towards original song composition and actually putting it to music online. This is not only an extraordinary venture but is a fusion of music and poetry in their finer senses. The manager of eFiction India is to be congratulated for radicalising the very concept of literature and music and bringing it to popular, mind you, not populist levels of aesthetics.

The short stories of eFiction India deal with a range of themes such as: social exclusion, poverty, the big city syndrome, humour, post modernist 'values' such as lesbianism, the holocaust of living in the city, the travails of living in a metropolis, folklore  etc. It also provides paraphernalia for exploring human behaviour and pattern which are at once tragic, comic or serio comic. The idea of transformation of a good poem into a song will further enhance the already established credibility of this online journal. Moreover, the effort to convert stories to films is also being mooted. The Editor Nikhil Sharda is himself a film maker and has over thirty short films to his credit.

Again, eFiction India  is undauntedly  trying to establish flash fiction, which is short short fiction into a full fledged literary genre,  though it is still in its formative stages. But the very fact that eFiction India is publishing flash fiction attests credibility to this new style of fiction.

Moreover, eFicition India has thrown open a new wealth of talent in the Indian literary scene of writers writing in English. It has in its editorial board two young under-graduate women one from Pakistan and the other from Sri Lanka as well. Both these women are exceptionally talented writers. In fact, we also have to watch out for writers like Michelle  D' Costa and Richa Mehta who are regular contributors.

eFiction India has radicalised literature and the arts in many ways and subverted many literary norms. In fact, it has reworked both definitions of tradition and modernity. By publishing poems in regular rhyme and meter eFiction India has certainly re-defined modern and contemporary poetry.

Again, eFiction India will also go into the print mode very soon on a regular basis. At present it has printed limited copies of the first three issues. In short it is an excellent literary journal providing ample literary fodder.

The parent organization that is eFiction based in the US has different genre magazines such as: eHorror, eRomance, eFantasy, ePoetry etc. The submissions are reviewed by writers from different parts of the world and also by contributors and general readers. Then the responses are put to vote and the editor makes the final pick. A similar process is followed by eFiction India. There is provision for commenting by the reviewer and the entire process is online. eFiction is thus a global franchise for an online literary magazine and this is its uniqueness. Global franchise because the parent organization sends out its submissions for review to even the readers and editors of eFiction India, the other way round also works.

In its attempts to harmonize creativity and subvert the notion that art and literature is only elitist, eFiction India in its March issue has published a poem by a tea stall owner in Gurgaon who is from Haryana. He writes in Hindi but has no formal degree. The poem reads thus:

 

 

Evening tide

Lal Singh Dil

 

The evening wears its familiar colours

The foothpaths are walking to the basti

The lake is returning from the office

after being shunted out of work

The lake is quenching its thirst for water

The city is walking towards the villages

Someone has lost all his wages

Another is wiping with his dhoti the

blood off the whip-marks

on weak animals

The evening wears its familiar colours…

They are walking away from land

That belongs to another

carrying their straw baskets

The long caravan is moving on

carrying the burden of rebukes

Along the long shadows

children are riding donkeys

Their fathers have dogs in their arms

Pans hang on the backs of their mothers

Babies are sleeping in these pans

The long caravan is moving on

                      On their shoulders are the bamboos of their shacks

Who are these Aryans, so starved?

Which India’s land are they

going to conquer?

The young men love the dogs

They know not how to love palaces?

Long starved, they are leaving the

land that belongs to another

The long caravan is moving on

What do they know?

How many are tied to posts

How many burned alive at the stake

Those who cannot leave the basti

The shadows of the basti trees move on

Someone is holding the legs of tired animals

Of tired loves

The long caravan is moving on

The brave tillers of the land walk away

With the burden of shovels on their shoulders

On the wild paths

The love of the fields was murdered last night

Flames rose from the shacks last night

The caravan moves on.

Feature Translated by Nikhil Sharda eFiction India, March 2013

Ananya.S. Guha works in the Indira Gandhi National Open University, Shillong (Meghalaya) as an Academic Administrator. He has over 30 years of teaching and administrative experience. He has six collections of poetry and his forms have been published world wide. Some of his poems are due to appear soon in an Anthology of Indian Poetry in English to be published by Harper Collins.