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July date for non-fiction writing course

It was “chance” and not “choice” that led Calcutta to host the first international programme of the UK’s oldest and most prestigious creative writing course. But after the successful fiction-writing workshop in March-April, the University of East Anglia (UEA) will soon be back in Calcutta, this time for non-fiction.

The university will hold an eight-day non-fiction creative writing course in the city starting July 16 that “will allow serious writers engaged in non-fiction projects to develop their skills”. The course will be steered by author Amit Chaudhuri, who conducted the previous workshop as well, and British writer-biographer Patrick French.

Chaudhuri, who is based in Calcutta when he’s not teaching at the UEA, said the first workshop attracted some 115 applicants from all over the world. “Twenty-four were selected. Visa issues and a family illness kept two from attending. But the moment the remaining 22 arrived (from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Hyderabad, Bombay, Scotland, London, the US and Wales; three were from Calcutta), we, including Sujata Sen, the director of British Council, knew something extraordinary and unprecedented was happening in the city.”

Even while announcing the maiden effort in November last year, Chaudhuri had spoken about following it up with a non-fiction workshop.

“Right from the beginning, I’d been interested in following-up with a non-fiction workshop, given non-fiction is such a broad, malleable, and therefore inherently promising notion. So much is happening in ‘non-fiction’ today that defies category. Given my interests, I knew we needed to explore this in an Indian context. And we’re very lucky to have one of our most distinguished biographers and historians, Patrick French, as a tutor on the course.”

“I would strongly encourage any committed writers with an interest in biography, essay, travel writing, popular history, psycho-geography and the urban experience, to consider applying for a place on our next course,” Jon Cook, the director of creative and performing arts at UEA said on its website.

Modelled on the UEA’s renowned MA Creative Writing course that has groomed authors like Ian McEwan, Kazuo Ishiguro, Mohammed Hanif and Anne Enright, the workshop is open to everyone, across the world. There are 24 places on offer and the fee is Rs 25,000. The submission deadline is June 7 and application requirements are available at http://www.uea.ac.uk/mac/comm/media/press/2013/May/calcutta-workshop