The Year 9 students were privileged to see guest speaker Samhita Arni this week as part of our annual Book Week Literature Festival. Samhita was visiting Australia for the Melbourne Writers Festival and we were very lucky that she had time to come to MHS as well. She talked to the students about her books, including The Mahabharata: A Child’s View (published when she was just 11 years old; she said that opportunity for publication just arose through luck). She said that her first book arose out of her voracious reading and love of mythology combined with the loneliness she felt after moving back to India after living in Pakistan. She showed some of the beautiful images in her bestselling graphic novel Sita’s Ramayana(illustrated by Moyna Chitrakar) and explained the historical background behind retellings of this Indian epic from a woman’s point of view as well as the implications of the renewed reverence for the story in modern India. She also talked about her most recent novel, The Missing Queen, which is another retelling of the Ramayana, this time in the form of a thriller set in the modern world. Other projects she mentioned included her participation in the cross-country anthology Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean, and her online project, Out of Print, which provides a platform for writing about sexual violence in South Asia.
The students were very positive about her talk, some of them saying afterwards that it was “an eye-opener,” exposing them to a side of India that they weren’t familiar with. One student said he really appreciated the way she conveyed feminism in an interesting and approachable way, arising out of her life experiences and her books. Another student commented that he found it fascinating the way she explained the relevance of ancient Indian epics to modern day life, reinvigorating mythology. The overall consensus seemed to be: “Brilliant!” (written by Mr Blair Mahoney)
Samhita Arni has been interested in Hindu mythology since she was a child. She has written The Mahabaharata: A Child’s View, a version of another great Indian epic, which has been translated into seven languages and was named Book of the Month by the German Academy for Youth Literature and Media, and one of the Best Published Books of 2004 by the Spanish Ministry of Culture. It also won the Elsa Morante Literary Award (Department of Culture, Campania, Italy). Samhita has also written scripts for film and television and is currently working on a thriller based on The Ramayana. She lives in Bangalore, India. (Source: Goodreads)
The Missing Queen
Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean
A collection of sci-fi and fantasy writing, including six graphic stories, showcasing twenty stellar writers and artists from India and Australia: Isobelle Carmody, Penni Russon, Justine Larbalestier, Margo Lanagan, Lily Mae Martin, Kuzhali Manickavel, Prabha Mallya, Annie Zaidi, Kate Constable, Vandana Singh, Mandy Ord, Priya Kuriyan, Manjula Padmanabhan, Samhita Arni, Alyssa Brugman, Nicki Greenberg and Amruta Patil. (Source:Goodreads)
When she was eight, Samhita Arni started writing and illustrating her first book. “The Mahabharata – A Child’s View” went on to be published in seven language editions and sell 50,000 copies worldwide, winning the Elsa Morante Literary Award, and receiving commendations from the German Academy for Youth Literature and Media and The Spanish Ministry of Culture. (Source: Amazon)