World traveling author makes stop at Edinboro

Category:  The Arts
Thursday, January 30th, 2020 at 7:54 PM
World traveling author makes stop at Edinboro by Hazel Modlin
Kiran Bhat poses with his novel. | Photo: Hazel Modlin

On Wednesday, Jan. 22, a small group of students and teachers listened to Kiran Bhat speak about his new book, “We of the Forsaken World.” The lecture was held in Reeder Hall.

Bhat’s book focuses on a total of 16 narratives about people from a fictional world; the book’s world is composed of four different regions that are falling apart. The unique layout of his story is an attempt to perfectly capture the idea of being a global citizen, something Bhat places great value on.

In an introduction, EU professor Caroline Campbell quoted a 2018 interview with Bhat, in which he said: “What matters is that we learn to encourage a curiosity about our planet, and the ways our human lives are interconnected and shared amongst us all. To be a global citizen is a mentality, and not a lifestyle, and so I would support people who want to live with their minds open, nothing more, nothing less.”

Bhat’s life experience heavily influences his work. He has traveled to over 132 countries, lived in 18 different places and speaks 12 languages.

“I chose to enter the world of traveling actually to write, because I was interested in a globalizing world, a world without borders, a world where people of all parts of the world could communicate and collaborate. So [I wanted] to live in a way that would allow me to be able to connect with people from any place,” he said.

His travels have widened his eyes to the struggles that some of the more “out-of-sight” countries have, and he wants to share a fictionalized version of these stories with the world in the hopes that citizens of all countries will be kind and help each other.

“We of the Forsaken World” is about 16 different people whose stories interconnect, despite living hundreds of miles apart. Bhat’s work flows fluidly from one character to another in a unique transitioning idea that he developed; as one character’s story is about to fade out, he uses a poetic interlude and intersects the first character with another character’s story. In this way, each narrative never truly begins, nor ends. Bhat mentioned, “Rather than having a story begin or end, there is a web of language.” In this way, he attempts to portray globalization through using unique literary techniques.

The four regions the book focuses on are as follows: a giant megalopolis, a beautiful tourist town destroyed by an industrial spill, a hamlet, and an Amazon-like forest that is inhabited by a tribe. While all of these places seem vastly different at first glance, Bhat mentioned they are connected by the fact that they are, largely, places that are hidden in the background. Most people don’t hear about or visit them often.

According to Bhat, it is no coincidence that these places in the shadows are largely where the problems and tragedies of the world occur. Bhat attempts to shed light on these problems and encourage people to put themselves in, as cliché as it sounds, other’s shoes. He believes that the more we can empathize with others from walks of life that are wildly different than our own, the closer we are to understanding what it means to be a global citizen.

Bhat’s characters are also named in such a way to allow his readers to feel a connection to them. His characters are given names such as “peanut vendor,” in order to change the reader’s focus from the individual themselves to people they may know in real life. A “peanut vendor” is not just a character, he explained, but someone the reader could have walked past on a busy street earlier on in the day.

Bhat originally had the idea for his novel in 2011 when he was studying abroad. He had been on a bus in Croatia, and a woman sat down next to him. When he began to talk to the woman, she mentioned that Croatia is one of the poorest countries in the world. Bhat said: “Something clicked inside me, and I just started imagining all these situations in the world where people live in what we would call those poor countries. Like putting myself in her perspective, like how do we deal with this kind of feeling, being from these places that are not always in the forefront of global culture, [and] that are kind of seen as backwards places where things don’t really happen and life is largely sadder.”

“We of the Forsaken World” strives to bring those forgotten people to the forefront and to force the world to remember them, according to the writer.

Bhat is a writer at heart, and he is currently working on another piece that he hopes to publish in the near future. “Girar,” the Spanish word for “turn,” will be about traveling the globe to view life through a mother and father’s eyes.

Bhat is currently living in Melbourne, Australia, but he continues to travel, not only to inspire him in his future literary endeavors, but also in order to tour his book. He is currently pursuing graduate studies in creative writing, editing and publishing.

For more information, he can be found on Facebook, keyword: Kiran Bhat.

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