The first issue of the year is always a special one at Lounge. We usually look ahead to the promise the year holds by celebrating storytelling that goes beyond the journalistic. Last year, we chose to focus entirely on fiction and commissioned short stories to mark the idea of the present, since we had all spent the pandemic years merely getting from day to day. Since then, the world has, more or less, returned to thinking not just about today but also what tomorrow might be like.
So, for our first issue of 2023, we reached out to writers and artists and shared a simple prompt with them: “possibilities”. We left it to them to interpret this as broadly or narrowly as they wished, in fiction or non-fiction, and have curated a literary special for you. This issue brings together some of the country’s most exciting young writers and some of Lounge’s best-known regulars, who show us a different side of their writer’s personality.
There were two sparkling debut novels in 2022, and both authors feature in this issue: Avinuo Kire, whose work draws on the myths and legends of her home of Nagaland; and Bengaluru-based Arvind Jayan, with his sharp dark comedy Teen Couple Have Fun Outdoors. Each interprets “possibilities” in vastly different ways. Children’s illustrator Alyssa Pachuau, whose first picture book project was published in 2022, retells a Mizo folktale that was just right for our theme. Critic Jai Arjun Singh, who usually confines himself to all things film for Lounge, muses on the ideas of empathy, sentience and just being a better neighbour in an essay, the telling of which could as easily slide into the realm of fiction.
Lounge columnist Nisha Susan puts us on a treadmill with her short story. We also have the ever-creative poet and writer Meena Kandasamy getting a little help from the year’s most popular chatbot, ChatGPT, only to find that some questions are hard to answer with any kind of intelligence.
For the first time, we are working with the talented and deeply imaginative Kokila B., who has brought an entirely new layer to every piece of writing in this issue. She interprets “possibilities” in her own way for the issue’s cover, visualising through a bioscope and VR, a just and loving world, where maybe, just maybe, we could do everything from saving the Great Indian Bustard to amplifying unheard voices.
Write to the Lounge editor at firstname.lastname@example.org