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Michael FerrierAward winning author Michäel Ferrier is in Pondicherry to find inspiration for an upcoming book about the town. The author, who lives in Japan and hails from a multicultural background finds Pondicherry’s multicultural identity interesting and wants to examine it further.
Alliance française plans to host a writer every summer for the writer-in-residence programme.

Renowned French writer Michäel Ferrier is in Pondicherry to be part of the writer-in-residence programme hosted by the Alliance française. While so far, the Alliance française here has hosted historians and cartoonists, Mr. Ferrier is the first novelist on board. Olivier Litvine, director, Alliance française de Pondichery said that every summer they will host a prizewinning writer of the Golden Door award, in collaboration with the ‘Cité nationale de l’histoire de l’immigration’, Paris. (French museum of immigration)

Mr. Ferrier won the 2011 Prix littéraire de la Porte Dorée (Golden Door award) of the Cité nationale de l`histoire de l`immigration for his work ‘Sympathie pour le fantôme’. This book observes French identity through a viewpoint from Japan, where he has lived for 24 years. The Golden Door awards are given to works which deal with the subject of exile.

The constant honking Mr. Ferrier experienced in the city as much as the wonderful kolam patterns he saw here has inspired him to write a book on Pondicherry which would likely be titled, ‘Kolam for a few million horns’. He said that the book will deal with art in everyday life and will focus on women, primarily because the artistic kolam is made by women. He added that the kolam story is also connected to an ancient Japanese writing form ‘Nikki’, where people write an everyday diary, particularly while travelling.

Kolam is also a perfect fit for Mr. Ferrier’s favorite theme – identity. Most of his writings are actually all about identity. The author intends to examine Pondicherry’s multicultural identity and history of emigration and immigration. He said that nowadays, identity is seen as a monolithic block, with well-defined structure but it is uncertain, and consists of mobility, memory and hybridity.

While Mr. Ferrier was born in Strasbourg, France and has never visited India before, he feels a sense of ‘familiarity and strangeness’, as if everything he saw around was alien as well as commonplace. This could probably be because of his Indian link. His grandmother’s family was from Goa although she herself was born in Madagascar. He said that he identifies physical features of the people he sees here among his family members and feels that he might bump into a cousin at a street corner.

Mr. Ferrier is in Pondicherry for two weeks and will be interacting with Indian writers and students. He also plans to visit Auroville, Pondicherry University, the French Institute of Pondicherry and the French School of Asian Studies.

 

 

Text: Amit Peter
Source: The Hindu

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