Brainfeed in conversation with Yash Tiwari, the youngest author to write a novel on pandemic, ‘India Book of Records’ holder and a TED Talks speaker
Please brief us about yourself.
I did my schooling at United Public School, Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh. I have been part of TED Talks. The idea to write world’s first novel on COVID experience—‘PANDEMIC 2020 – Rife of the Virus’ occurred to me back in April. It was a harrowing experience seeing the world coming to a standstill amidst circulation of conspiracy theories against China and the imminent collapse of healthcare.
I received the “India Book of Records” and ‘Asia Book of Records International Award’ for being the youngest author to write fiction on COVID-19. I have been awarded “Top 100 Inspiring Authors of India and Global Young Leader Fellowship and TCC REX Karmaveer Chakra Award by iCOGNO in association with United Nations. I have been a part of United Nations 75th Anniversary World Peace Global Initiative.
I have been mentoring youngsters around the world to recognize and defy Youthism and Reverse Ageism
In context of Pandemic 2020, share with us a few insights on the predicted rise of Pandemic literature.
When something horrendous happens, the remorse strikes everyone equally. Be it the unfortunate events of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Bombing, the Indian War Of Independence, or even 9/11 – these heart-wrenching events of loss are now Literature. The term ‘pandemic’ is very fresh to us and so a collective fear about it exists. But in decades from now, we will see how thousands of literary pieces are produced based on COVID-19. For my novels, I take inspiration from George R R Martin author of A Song of Ice and Fire. His way of presenting the multiplicity of perspectives on a singular topic is dominant in my novels.
Being a young author, what challenges did you face initially in publishing the book?
It was a pretty memorable experience – getting my now internationally acclaimed and awarded debut novels, “A Celebration in Tribulation” and “PANDEMIC 2020 – Rife of the Virus” published within two years. The first hurdle I stumbled on, primarily with A Celebration in Tribulation, was to prove that my age does not define my mettle or the literary skills I possess.
But once my novel was published, it started to garnish a great deal of global recognition, partly because of the unique subject matter but also because it was completed within 22 days. My narratives resonated within the readers on a global pane. The hustle assured me that age is my strength and not an obstruction in my path to success. Since then, I have been mentoring youngsters around the world to recognize and defy Youthism and Reverse Ageism. I will be delivering a TED talk on this topic pretty soon! Eventually, I think it all boils down to what I have achieved by myself so far. I have a few literary projects in the pipeline too and I will start working on them soon.
Talking about the pandemic, is there a general apathy in society towards the marginalised section?
I think the issue is graver than apathy towards the marginalized. The issue is about every individual only focusing on getting their needs fulfilled without caring for an ounce about those who are perishing without any resources. Nonetheless, I have also seen many people reaching out to help the lesser privileged. Both the perspectives about the pandemic experience have been transformed into fiction in PANDEMIC 2020.
You had accessed a platform previously graced by Shashi Tharoor and Richa Chadha . . .
Well, having delivered four TED Talks at TEDx events has given me life lessons for which I’d need more than a couple of pages to articulate. My experience has been absolutely amazing. I had the opportunity to address international audiences and become enriched by some of the renowned change-makers ever.
Being a Global Youth Mentor and a Mental Health Awareness Advocate is all about reaching out and healing people with words—something I have always envisioned to do since childhood.
From where did you learn public speaking?
Honestly, I did not learn it per se from anywhere when I embarked on this journey. In fact, whenever I get on a stage I just present my real self and speak as who I am and what I stand for. To present yourself with a genuine candour, I don’t think any formal training is required.
Please share a few insights about students locked up inside virtual learning.
The anxiety kids are facing is justified. Be it the youngsters or the elders, when you see almost the entire world coming to a standstill, how can you not feel overwhelmed by it? It is a natural, instinctive feeling, especially with the younger ones whose life was all about spending half of the day at schools.
Firstly, for those of you who are presently feeling cooped up and claustrophobic, reach out and share. Do not store up the negative feelings. Because in a jar, you can only fill up a certain amount of brownies, right? After which it would eventually explode if you keep filling it up. Just like that, shackling up all the stress inside the mind is dangerous. You can reach out to me on @yashtiwarispeaks on all social media platforms if you want someone to talk to.
Please suggest to young readers a few interesting read for the quarantine.
My favourite titles are ‘The Diary of a Young Girl’, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, ‘The Alchemist’ and ‘The Catcher in The Rye.’