Qissa Issue 1 and the Literary Lacuna

Those who are following me on IG might know of the publication of Qissa Issue 1 yesterday. A 65-page first issue sets high standards with poetry, fiction and non-fiction in both English and Malayalam. I am so glad that the editorial team was able to pull off this first issue. We were supposed to have it out by November 15th, which was the internal deadline; in spite of the delay, I think the issue turned out very well indeed.

The story of the birth of Qissa is a short one. It arose from the realization that there isn’t a literary magazine that meets the needs of bilingual Malayali readers on the digital level and at a global scale. As I envisioned the literary magazine to be firmly rooted in the Malabar culture, I was determined that it could not simply be a Malayali magazine. It needed a global audience; it needed a global, inclusive outlook. The editorial team, a bunch of great ladies, agreed with me. Sukanya Shaji with her fierce politics and snappy attitude is a great Fiction editor. Aiswarya Sanath and Lakshmi Prabha handle the Non-fiction section with a comfort that comes from being in academia for long. Poetry was the natural choice for me as I’m comfortable with it, any day, compared to poetry.

When we put out the Call for Submissions we did not expect to receive as many submissions as we did. I’d like to thank Inklette Magazine for helping us spread the word in the initial stages. Surprisingly, we received submissions from a demographic I never looked at in relation to creative writing and that was the Dubai Malayali demographic. The writings, filled with “marunaadan” nostalgia was agreeably cliched, but an integral part of the kind of writing we were looking for. We also received submissions that treated topics of caste and sexuality in open, inclusive ways. It turned out to be a mature issue when we began receiving the art that went with it.

What really stood out for me in this issue was the cover photo by Muhammed Sajid. When I came across it on IG I knew it was the perfect fit for the inaugural issue of Qissa. Thanks to the generosity of the artist, we could agree on the same.

At the end of the day, I am thankful to the writers who submitted and the followers on IG who make us feel hopeful about the next issue.

To many more to come.

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