The 'Myth, Magic, History: Contemporary Fiction in Latin America and India' seminar bemused writers and scholars from Mexico, Chile, Venezuela, Peru and India as exotic names routinely appeared in the air - Jorge Luis Borges, Alejo Carpentier, Juan Jose Arreola, Miguel Angel Asturias and, of course, Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Mexican author Jorge Volpi, whose novel 'En Busca de Klingsor' won the Biblioteca Breve Prize in 1999 and was translated into English as 'In Search of Klingsor', did inject a prosaic note by likening novels to parasites.
'A novel is a collection of ideas transmitted from one mind to another through reading. When someone decides to write a novel, he visits his personal library, rummages through the ideas that bubble in his mind and create his own personal story,' said Volpi.
'Since the publication of the first part of 'Don Quijote' in 1605, the novel has gone through a great evolution. Cervantes' masterpiece was not appreciated as such, but was seen merely as a parody of the novel of chivalry,' said Volpi, who has written nine books of fiction.
He also warned against the plague of banal novels that 'invades us on a daily basis' and raised his voice in the fight for complex novels - those that are not satisfied with simple imitation, that defy conventions and seek to rise above themselves.
While Akademi secretary K. Satchidanandan championed against the 'monolithic, stereotypical concept of the Latin American novel', Chilean critic Jaime Collyer asserted: 'The myth and the hoax, this magic-religious interpretation of the world are as much a part of Spanish America as its actual discovery.'
The Sahitya Akademi, which is publishing Spanish-Hindi bilingual editions of Gabriela Mistral, Pablo Neruda, Octavio Paz and contemporary poets, has sought help from other publishers in this mammoth task.
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