In conversation with the editor of SETU, Sunil Sharma
Sunil Sharma writes multi-layered fiction. His stories delve into the depths of human nature and often suggest to us what is worthy. They experiment with different narrative techniques and reflect his erudition. Sometimes, he writes poetry about the downtrodden. He has also written a highly symbolic novel that weaves mythology, different lores and cultures into a rich tapestry for the readers. Sharma is a Mumbai-based senior academic, critic, literary editor and author with twenty published books — seven collections of poetry, three of short fiction, one novel, a critical study of the novel, and, eight joint anthologies on prose, poetry and criticism, and, one joint poetry collection. He is also an editor par excellence. Today, we celebrate him for running one of the most popular online journals – SETU, an e-magazine that hopes to build bridges across cultures and the best in literature. Let us explore this facet of Sharma in this exclusive interview.
SETU has completed four years of virtual existence. What started you on this journey?
A casual conversation with my cousin Anurag Sharma– a distinguished Hindi author and tech professional– from Pittsburgh, USA, for the need of a bilingual platform to showcase serious writings committed to a secular and democratic worldview and best ethical practices as citizens and individuals. In brief – the finest values and their artistic transmissions in various forms. The idea clicked and we both started a cultural journey for a better world or a dream thereof. Both the Hindi and English monthly editions — released from Pittsburgh — are autonomous content wise. We often consult each other on many common editorial issues and work as a strong team. We both enjoy this kind of service to the community.
What are the principles on which SETU runs?
A: Merit. Objectivity. Transparency. Accountability. Preference for quality.
Tell us about your team. How many are you and how many languages do you support?
So far two principal players. And some good friends as our enduring editorial support. Though the journal is bilingual, we often publish translations from many languages, including European ones. So, open to all the language-systems of the world. Every talent, welcome.
You often have issues being guest edited — what do you look for when selecting a guest editor? Why guest edit?
Impeccable credentials, integrity, transparency, cooperation and scholarship. The why of it — to engage more and more writers in an ongoing and expanding dialogue, multi-cultural and multi-dimensional
What kind of submissions get accepted in SETU?
A: Quoting an excerpt from Duotrope interview:
—The one conforming to the guidelines and vision of the journal.
—One providing epiphanies most preferred.
—Form-content dialectics, must.
—Social conscience—big Yes. (Please check the link: https://duotrope.com/interview/editor/26995/setu)
Additionally: Of course, well-written texts, error-free; demonstrating native talent and judicious use of words and imagery.
What do you see as the future of SETU?
We would like to see it evolve as a sustainable platform for writers, artists and readers as a truly global home of quality; an interactive mode; a continued conversation; a way of recognizing talents through our humble awards — to spread positivity, peace and harmony.
SETU is bringing out books too now. Can you tell us a bit about that?
We bring out very select books only on no-profit-no-loss basis. It is another service extended to those willing to publish with a small press. Details can be found on the Setu site. (Please check the link: https://www.setumag.com/p/write-for-setu.html)
As a writer, how has SETU helped you? Has it enriched you in any way? Has it impacted you?
Not much. It often acts as a distraction — but now, it has become a habit, part of doing my bit for the field. As a reader and editor, one gets in touch with the current literary thinking and trends and varied writing styles and content.
Your stories and poems centre around Mumbai. Why? What happens when/if you move out of Mumbai?
I am afraid it is not that, although frequency of Mumbai might be more. I have written about Europe, China, Canada and USA as well, cities that I have visited in my avatar as a tourist. Written about Delhi and Ghaziabad, where I grew up. About other cities also, imagined or real, in my recent fiction.
Mumbai is my present location — my muse. Hence, more references to the megacity. It acts as a background or a main character, in my fictions and poetry — its rich contradictions; pull; dynamism; professionalism; multi-ethnicity and vibrancy.
You cannot escape your place, city, town– the spatial reality, its geography and history and memory.
Place has its own value. It shapes you up and the host community and its overall personality.
How many languages do you write in? Do you translate? If so from how many languages?
I am a bilingual. But lately, I have been writing in English only. I occasionally translate Hindi-to-English and vice versa.
What are your future plans?
To write novels, other things being equal and His grace. Let us see.
Thanks for taking your time to satisfy all our reader’s curiosity.
This interview was conducted online by Mitali Chakravarty.
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