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The Power of Short Stories

Commonwealth Writers Conversation – The Untold Story: The Power of Short Stories

Apeejay, Commonwealth Writers Conversation, Kolkata
Photo credit: Lahari Basu


On 10 January the audience at the Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival was enthralled by the Commonwealth Writers Conversation, continuing to refer to it over the ensuing days. The power of the short story to achieve so much in such a short space: creating worlds, breaking expectations, changing minds: was explored by a panel of outstanding writers who choose to write, edit and publish short stories. Chaired by writer Romesh Gunesekera, the panel included feminist writer, historian and publisher Urvashi Butalia; winner of the 2010 Commonwealth Prize, Rana Dasgupta, who was launching a new, non-fiction book on twenty-first century Delhi, Capital; and Palash Krishna Mehtrotra, whose most recent book is The Butterfly Generation: A Personal Journey into the Passions and Follies of India’s Technicolour Youth.

The panellists ranged across every aspect of the short story form, which continues to be well-loved by readers and writers in many languages, in defiance of market wisdom. The conversation continued between the authors and a full, lively and well-informed house, who – while creatively disagreeing on approach, detail, and tradition – were in wholehearted agreement on the unique flexibility and appeal of short stories. The short story certainly is a provocative form, well suited to a variety of voices.

Read more about the Conversation, and add your comments, here

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Romesh Gunesekera launched Noontide Toll, an exquisite and thunderous collection of linked short stories, at the 2014 Apeejay Literary Festival, Kolkata. His numerous and well-reputed publications include Heaven’s Edge, shortlisted for a Commonwealth Writers Prize and a New York Times Notable Book. He grew up in Sri Lanka and Philippines and now lives in London.


Urvashi Butalia is an Indian writer and feminist historian, co-founder of Kali for Women, India’s first feminist publishing house, and Director of Zubaan Books, an imprint of Kali for Women. The Other Side of Silence, Butalia’s collection of interviews with Partition survivors, is a significant and widely received work. Butalia was created a Padmashree in 2011.

Rana Dasgupta launched Capital, his extraordinary, empathetic investigation of life and money in twenty-first-century Delhi, at the 2014 Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival. Dasgupta’s earlier work includes Solo, winner of the 2010 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize.

Palash Krishna Mehrotra is an author, editor, and columnist, whose interests span music, literature and popular culture. His publications include Eunuch Park: Fifteen Stories of Love and Destruction and The Butterfly Generation: A Personal Journey into the Passions and Follies of India’s Technicolour Youth.

Commonwealth Writers is grateful to the Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival for a scintillating partnership.