After the Jaipur Lit Fest, it will be Delhi’s turn to host a literary festival next week.
The National Book Trust (NBT), which organises the New Delhi World Book Fair every year at Pragati Maidan, has decided to introduce writers’ corners and interactive sessions this year. The decision was taken after taking into consideration the people’s enthusiasm at the Jaipur Lit Fest.
NBT’s director MA Sikandar said, “This year’s book fair will be held from February 4 to 10. This time, we have planned four-five events such as talks, readings, debates, workshops and Q&A sessions every day. Earlier, the focus was on the sale of books. But we wanted to innovate. Allowing book lovers to interact with authors was one such way.”
There will be four writer corners at the book fair. NBT expects 50-55 English and 25-30 Hindi and language writers to show up for the event. There will be literary encounters and book-signings by noted French authors such as Tahar Ben Jelloun, Kenizé Mourad and Dominique Sigaud. There will also be training on publishing, film screening, interaction with photographers and their exhibitions and writing workshops.
The book trust is still in the process of finalising the list but some of the other participating authors include Amit Shankar, Nilanjana Roy, Nirupama Subramanian, Nandita Bose and Girija Kumar, among others.
However, the furore that sociologist Ashis Nandy’s comments created at the Jaipur Lit Fest has made the NBT wary. “We’re not going to invite controversial authors. People will be free to air their views, but they should be careful. Everyone is responsible for their actions. We are hoping and praying that everything goes well,” said Sikandar.
Literature and cinema was the theme last year and the fair had attracted nearly 1,300 Indian and 30 foreign exhibitors. This year’s theme is ‘Indigenous Voices: Mapping India’s Folk and Tribal Literature’.
Multifarious expressions of native cultures will be showcased through book exhibits, art forms, crafts, panel discussions and performances. Riding on the Lit Fest wave, NBT expects an even better response this time.
This year France is a ‘guest of honour country.’ “Many authors and scholars from France will engage in conversations with their Indian counterparts at the literary events and professional round tables,” Sikandar said.
“Unlike the Jaipur event, ours is a government initiative. We have involved various government literary bodies. For instance, Sahitya Akademi has been entrusted with the task to bring regional language writers,” he said.