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For the love of literature: Penguin Fever 2017 celebrates books and ideas

The annual literary festival offers a library-cum-store in the morning for book lovers and a bouquet of panel discussions in the evening

art and culture Updated: Oct 28, 2017 10:41 IST
Poulomi Banerjee
Book lovers check out the collection on the first day of the Penguin Fever 2017 literary festival.
Book lovers check out the collection on the first day of the Penguin Fever 2017 literary festival.(Ravi Choudhary/HT PHOTO)

On Thursday afternoon, 30-year-old Aakangshita Dutta made the most of having her office at India Habitat Centre, the venue for the Penguin Fever 2017, by taking a quick book browsing and buying break from work. She was one of the earliest visitors at the ongoing literature and cultural festival that managed to attract a steady stream of book lovers, despite opening during the work week. “I read a lot and I prefer physical books over e-books. Over the years, however, I have found myself reading more of short stories than voluminous literature, may be because of time constraints,” said Aakangshita, as she paid for a collection of “Terribly Tiny Tales”.

Penguin Fever 2017, a special edition of the annual Spring Fever, organised by Penguin Random House India, is part of the publishing house’s 30th anniversary celebrations. Hosted in association with the Visual Arts Gallery of the India Habitat Centre, the festival offers a library-cum-store for book lovers in the morning, with evenings dedicated to panel discussions with some of India’s most celebrated and popular writers.

The book selection includes fiction, non-fiction, classics and books for the young reader, with a special focus on books by Penguin-published authors shortlisted for this year’s Man-Booker prize. There are no rare or limited edition titles here – mostly books that are available at the stores – but the selection includes more of quick reading options to encourage at-venue reading, as much as buying. Conversations in the evenings will range from the environment to crime writing and love and relationships to translations. HT spoke to some of the authors who will be attending the festival, for a sneak peek into what they are likely to talk about.

Ruskin Bond, Author, On Life And Writing

Spring Fever has always been one of my favourite festivals and I’m delighted to participate in Penguin Fever, this year’s special edition. This is a great platform for writers to interact with their readers. This year my guilty secret will be exposed to the world - my love of lemon cheesecake!

Ravinder Singh, Author, On Romance

How I write on love has changed over the years and will change further over the coming years. My initial books were about eternal, never dying love. But my latest book, This Love That Feels Right, is about extramarital affair and open marriage. Perhaps I wanted to challenge the self-righteous society and question why extra-marital affairs are seen through a negative prism and why are open marriages taboo? The experiences I write of are not necessarily my own. As an author I am also an observer of the things happening around me. I listen to the experiences of so many readers, and many of those find expression in my books. Most of my love stories have had a sad ending and people have related to that. My stories give people the feeling that they are not the only one suffering.

Rana Safvi, Author, On Translations

There is a lot of translation work happening from English to Indian languages, and vise versa. But Urdu often gets left out. It is anyway a shrinking language. I want to see more of Urdu works being translated, since Urdu writings have such a rich historical context and reflect a very syncretic culture. The challenge for a translator working in any language is to convey the context of the writing, rather than simply the literal meaning of the words. Urdu has so many layers. It is rich in cultural context and translations have to keep that essence of it intact. One of the best translations from Urdu that I have read are those by Qurratulain Hyder, who has translated some of her own works from Urdu to English. Because it is her own work, she has been able to take liberties.

Durjoy Datta, Author, On Love

There is a lot of translation work happening from English to Indian languages, and vise versa. But Urdu often gets left out. It is anyway a shrinking language. I want to see more of Urdu works being translated, since Urdu writings have such a rich historical context and reflect a very syncretic culture. The challenge for a translator working in any language is to convey the context of the writing, rather than simply the literal meaning of the words. Urdu has so many layers. It is rich in cultural context and translations have to keep that essence of it intact. One of the best translations from Urdu that I have read are those by Qurratulain Hyder, who has translated some of her own works from Urdu to English. Because it is her own work, she has been able to take liberties.

Ravi Subramanian, Author, On Thrillers

I start with a premise. The story starts with a murder to hook the readers and get them interested. Everything after that is a reconstruction of what happened. I don’t plan the plot, which is why it takes me a long time to write, but the good thing about it is that way it is unpredictable. Typically, it takes me a year to write a book, which is a long time. Internationally, and even in India today, most thriller authors come out with two books a year. When I started writing, most of my thrillers were set in the backdrop of banking because that is where I came from. But when you are writing stories constantly, you start looking for other stories. My last two books, The Bestseller She Wrote and In The Name Of God, are not set in the banking industry.

What: Penguin Fever 2017
Where:
India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road
Nearest Metro Station:
Khan Market
When:
Till October 31. Library and book sale from 11 am. Panel discussions in the evenings everyday:
Saturday, October 28

5pm:
Sunita Narain, Prerna Bindra and Pradip Krishen on environment
7pm:
Ravinder Singh and Durjoy Datta on love and relationships
Sunday, October 29

5pm:
Ruskin Bond on life and writing
7pm:
Brijesh Singh, Ravi Subramanian and Novoneel Chakraborty on crime writing
Monday, October 30
5pm: Perumal Murugan, Kannan Sundaram, Bibek Debroy and Rana Safvi on translations
Tuesday, October 31
5pm: Business panel with Shashi Tharoor, Gurucharan Das, Sanjeev Sanyal and Sonu Bhasin