Book lovers unite: The Literary Festival coming near you

By Kiran Galani

As the new year turns over, book lovers across the nation prepare to revel in another year of their favourite book fests from all over India. These literary fests are a paradise for writers and readers alike, creating a world where everything is magically literary, if only for a few days. The number of options available is so varying and intense that it can get rather difficult to choose which ones to attend and which ones to skip out. Here’s a mini-guide to some of the most famous book festivals across the nation, each with varying points of interest. 

The big ones

Started in 2006, the Jaipur Literary Festival (JLF) is hailed as one of the world’s largest free event of its kind and is a perfect example of this category. Having grown exponentially over the years, this festival can boast of an impressive list of celebrated and acclaimed authors and speakers like Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan, Orhan Pamuk, among others, who have graced the event with their presence in the past. The Diggi Palace Hotel in Jaipur serves as the main venue for the festival, while parallel sessions are also held in the Hall of Audience. The event is scheduled to take place from January 24 and will continue till January 29. This year, the list of speakers include Javed Akhtar, Shabana Azmi and Anthony Horowitz among others.

The Kolkata Literary Festival is worth a mention. Held in the historic premise of Victoria Memorial Hall since its conception in 2014, it takes place during January every year. This year the festival will be held from January 22 until January 27 and authors like Anita Desai and Paul Beatty are expected to grace the event. Others include the Tata Literature Live Mumbai, a literary Fest held in Mumbai that just concluded its eighth edition last year and includes an impressive list of conversations, panel discussions, performances, book launches, workshops and debates, the Bangalore Literary Festival, generally held during October, which celebrates the city’s creative spirit and its literary diversity and the Kerala Literary Festival, a four-day festival that includes debates, discussions and even cookery shows.

Fests highlighting diversity

Several literary fests across the nation make an effort to promote works in different languages and from different parts of the diverse Indian society. Take for instance the three-day Hyderabad literary festival that has emerged as one of the most important cultural events in the city. Each year, the event has a guest nation and focuses on an Indian language. The three-day event is replete with discussions with authors, workshops and cultural events. 

Similarly, the Goa Arts and Literature Festival, which started in 2010, was founded with the objective to celebrate the ‘margins’. It has led to a greater focus on the literature from states of North-East and Kashmir, and also from neighbouring countries like Pakistan and Nepal. It just concluded in December last year and had personalities like Supriya Nair and Wendell Rodricks. The Jashn-e-Rekhta festival is a unique three-day literary event that celebrates the beauty and versatility of the Urdu language. The event takes place in the capital and unfolds with discussions and competitions among fellow poets. Last year, it took place from December 8 to December 10 at Dhyan Chand National Stadium. 

Another unique festival is the Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival that is considered to be India’s only literary festival that has been created by a bookstore. The festival is reflective of the vibrancy and cultural eclecticism that Kolkata is known for. The event unfolds in several heritage sites in the city and in Oxford Bookstore. It takes place during January every year and this year it will be held from January 11-14. 

Fests for different age groups

Hailed as the literary festival conceptualised and organised by youth, the Lucknow Literary Festival takes place in November and has an eclectic array of speakers. It intends to promote and preserve the culture of the city. Similarly the Bookaroo Children’s Literature Festival, often considered as the first literary festival for children, entered its tenth edition last year. Last year, over 60 award-winning writers, poets, illustrators and storytellers from 18 countries had assembled at Children’s Park near India Gate and delighted the young bookworms, encouraging them to become the future literary fanatics of the nation. 

These literary festivals provide a unique opportunity to celebrate one’s love for books and meet similar like-minded people. It also gives writers a chance to hear their heroes and role models talk about literature and offers them an opportunity to learn from the best and brainstorm new ideas. Even if one wasn’t directly related to the literary industry and didn’t harbour an intense love for books, these literary festivals have much to offer in terms of cultural immersion and experience and are definitely something everyone must visit once in their life. 


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