Aruni Kashyap, who shot into fame in the Assamese literary scene with his essay “The Identity Crisis of Assamese Youth” (Asomiya Juva Prajanmar Identity Crisis), published in Satsori journal, has won the prestigious Charles Wallace India Trust Scholarship to participate in a creative writing course at the University of Edinburgh. The angry personal essay argued that the shoddy literature syllabuses in Assam schools gradually reduce the interests of the Assamese youth on Assamese literature.
Aruni debuted with a popular monthly column in the Assamese daily Amar Asom, when he was a young undegraduate student at St. Stephen’s College, Delhi. Since then he has published short stories, essays, literary essays and poems in English and Assamese magazines. His stories and poems are mostly set in Assam and the violence that plagues his state finds expression in them in complex ways. Currently he is lending finishing touches to his novel The House With a Thousand Novels, a family saga set in rural Assam, with the “secret killings phase” of the nineties as background. He wants to write a novel soon on the harrowing Assam Agitation since he feels, that the new generation of Assamese don’t know much about this nationalist movement and the national and international media has not presentsed its true picture to the world; the history textbooks are also silent about this phase that changed Assam forever. The Assam Tribune reports that though he writes in English, it’s distinctively Assamese. For this, “Bihu Poetry”, is his significant innovation that borrows stock motifs from Bihu folk-songs of Assam to present a distinct Assamese experience.
Under this scholarship, he will be attending a creative writing course during the month of August, under some well known British authors. The Scottish Universities International Summer School organises this program every year. The 2008 summer school was once again a truly international affair, with participants from 27 different countries and Man Booker Prize shortlisted author Philip Hensher teaching a masterclass in fiction. This year the creative writing courses will be taught by authors such as popular playwright Douglass Maxwell, Man Booker Prize shortlisted author James Robertson and many others.