The last two days have been amazing – and full of outstanding women.
One of them is the excellent Shobhaa De – an Indian writer and broadcaster, and one firecracker of a speaker.
She was on the outstanding Women in Fiction panel at #shjibf with Kate Mosse , Oumaima Abdullah al-Khamis (Saudi Arabia) and Dr Ahdaf Suwaif (Egypt)which Lisa Dempster has written about beautifully already. It was bloody brilliant and highly charged.
Shobhaa is full of amazing, inspiring ideas. In a breathless hour she spoke of politics, power, feminism, aging, family, writing and so much more.
I make it sound cliché, but she’s positively electric. Her wit and a certain lightness of touch manage to freshen-up tired conversations to which so many worthy writers and events fall victim.
At 60, she’s a best-selling novelist, international phenomenon, journalist and mother of 6. Honestly, I don’t think the paparazzi bulbs stopped flashing during the entire talk.
She’s sparkling and clever and incredibly passionate – especially about the phenomenal growth and astounding opportunities arising in India today.
It was an intense hour and I’ve honestly been buzzing ever since.
I am highly intrigued by the bold new writing coming out of India – she’s made some fascinating suggestions I need to ferret out while I am here.
Plus, I’d love to learn more about the exploding market there. Every day you hear of bookshops folding and independent presses running dry. The press constantly bemoan the death of print – and the flagging subscription rate to broadsheets. In India, however, the trend is for growth and demand – and at an astounding rate. There are more books, more stores, more newspapers – more of everything it seems.
I picked up one of her books, my first purchase of the fair [if you don't count my daily can of Coke to see me through the heat of the day].
I had it signed while a camera was rolling, so I may well be on the 6 o’clock news somewhere in the world. I have no idea.
It was incrediby inspiring on many levels.
She is exactly the sort of person I’d love to take out to dinner and just pick her brains. I hope someday I have the chance to do so. Wouldn’t that be a treat!