Celebrating literature in India

Celebrating literature
Mita Kapur, Deccan Herald, February 1, 2009
The Jaipur lit festival was a reiteration of the fact that the written word will never go out of fashion. Mita Kapur loses herself in a world full of books & ideas.

The mind was held captive. Its agility challenged. The nerve endings buzzed. Words, thoughts, ideas, truths, un-truths, opinions, speculation and what have you were all at play in a frenzied manner. No, I’m not talking about a psychological upheaval but of the word play that was on at the just-concluded Jaipur Literature festival.

What began as a small, intimate festival with just 22 authors in 2006, jumped to 45 in 2007 and now had about 116 writers, poets, speakers, panelists creating a resonance unparalleled throughout the Asian landscape. That the festival has evolved to be more and more inclusive is self-evident. The focus was on the effort on being representative of literature in languages other than English, India’s oral traditions, mythology, translations, script writing, performance poetry, debating, all of which nuance the world of writing and books.

The idea of a literary festival must cater to a wide spectrum of people. It has to appeal to a serious literary reader (of all ages) who feeds on layered genre literature, sceptics, cynics, humanists and it also has to appeal to the young girl in her teens, the lad on the mobike, a lady with a Gucci bag, the spectacled prof, someone who reads only newspapers, someone who likes to be seen at “the event” for the sake of being seen...well, all sorts of people who fill up the world essentially and the lit fest in Jaipur did just that. Ticking off a mental check list was the only way to survive the festival.

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