Indira Chandrasekhar, founder and editor-in-chief of the online literary magazine Out of Print, says the short story’s format allows the writer to explore themes with a sharp focus
Scientist and novelist Indira Chandrasekhar is the founder and editor of the online literary magazine Exhausted, which celebrated its tenth anniversary in December 2020. The occasion was marked by the publication of Out of stock – Ten years: an anthology of stories, which featured some of the best short works of fiction to appear in the magazine over the years. The book didn’t get the attention it deserved when the pandemic hit. Chandrasekhar is the author of Polymorphism: Stories, published in 2017. Since its creation, it has been associated with the G5A Foundation for Contemporary Culture, a non-profit association focused on experimental contemporary art. In this interview, she explains what Exhausted means to her. Extracts:
What prompted you to start Exhausted?
The moment we started Exhausted, I was starting to write serious fiction myself and found that there was little space in India to publish news, and almost no online platforms. These bring such immediacy and scope, which create a certain energy in itself. I felt a surge of conviction that we would be able to start and maintain an online magazine of short fiction films and I immersed myself in it.
Submission guidelines for Exhausted specify that the stories must relate to the Indian subcontinent. How do you define this connection?
We don’t have any rules for it. It’s usually a no-brainer, emerging from the geography, the character, the narrative … However, what it means in a deeper sense is something more elusive and less easy to explain. Perhaps one way to grasp that connection is to read the anthology, with its many stories and nuanced realities.
What are the other selection parameters in your publication?cation?
We are doctorfacing works that have an inherent integrity, a lack of self-awareness, an exploration of emotions and complex human relationships. They should have these âdark ties that connect us to other people, to our past,â as Shashi Deshpande puts it in his essay âWhy Read? (Subversions: Essays on Life and Literature). And, if I may add, to our imaginary futures and our places in the universe.
Is running an online literary magazine any different from running a print magazine?
The main difference between the two media is the post-editing process. I did not run a print magazine, but by bringing out Pangea: an anthology of stories from around the world (2012), Polymorphism and the Exhausted anthology, I experienced the limitations imposed by a physical page that do not exist in the online format. The writer does not need to pay attention to the word count when writing for online publications.
Can you list some short stories that stuck with you? Why are they unforgettable?
Some remarkable things stood out – stories that found a new future after being published in Exhausted, like those that originally appeared in a Lahore newspaper and in a higher education textbook on English writing in Norway; stories of exciting new writers as we develop, who pursue remarkable writing careers; translations that bring works from other languages ââto a new audience. Even some stories that we didn’t present but that stuck with me and moved me – like lost children, they stay with you forever.
Who is the target audience for Out of Print? Is the news popular enough with readers, in your opinion?
How can he not? It’s such a fine form – concise, succinct, essential, but revealing the complexities of love, happiness, loneliness and isolation. Place, history, tradition, family can all be explored with special attention.
We’re not really targeting specific readers. We are simply offering the work to any reader, and our readership is growing, which is very gratifying as it shows that there is an ongoing need for us to know who we are as people, as communities. , as societies, through our stories.
The investigator is the author of A happy place and other stories.