The presence of Germaine Greer, one of the pioneers of the second wave of feminism and conservationist, was undoubtedly one of the highlights of day one of the Mathrubhumi International Festival of Letters 2019. In the session titled Why I Read was chaired by literary agent Jenny Brown and renowned graphic novelist Corinne Pearlman as well, held in the shade of a large tree in the venue. Greer, 80, showed no signs of age as she stayed true to her characteristic witty self, even commenting that The Female Eunuch is not really a good book.
While speaking about why she reads, the writer revealed that she is a ‘’reluctant reader’’ and doesn’t read novels these days as the characters in it are expected to stay true to their original selves, unlike in real life where people change often. To such an extent that she has turned to reading science, though she doesn’t understand it fully. But to the audience’s delight, Greer said that one novelist she would re-read is RK Narayan, in whose works she feels the characters change. Salman Rushdie is not a favourite of hers though.
Women writers should move beyond their first book, which is mostly biographical, she added. She hates biographies, in fact, she said, and has turned out quite a few offers of one about herself. Corinne, on the other hand, said reading a book leads to her finding a connection between herself and the writer.
Being a literary agent, Jenny Brown said she is forced to read through books for publishing as fast as she can, and that she looks forward to holidays when she can read what she likes, leisurely. Greer also observed that there is a year in your life where everything is burnt in your memory to which Corinne agreed.
When asked about the Sabarimala issue, Greer said that she was aware of it, and that Malayalis are capable of sophisticated and civilized discussions and should therefore go for them. There are monasteries in other parts of the world as well where women are not allowed, she added, concluding: Don’t become western, become modern.