Throw a stone in Mumbai, and it’ll probably hit a film festival. But the city’s avid readers are grossly under-represented, which is probably why Literature Live, arguably the city’s first lit fest, was well received last year. From a dramatised reading of The Kite Runner to a cello performance, the three-day event had author sessions in the mornings and a headlining performance in the evenings.
This year, literary heavyweights like Shashi Tharoor (The Great Indian Novel), Amitav Ghosh (The Glass Palace), Ramchandra Guha (India After Gandhi), Suketu Mehta (Maximum City) and William Dalrymple (White Mughals) are on the roster for the November event.
As part of the performances, a Pune-based group will present a dramatised telling of Vijay Tendulkar’s newspaper columns. “Since the fest is held in Mumbai, we need to have a connection with Marathi. But being an international fest, it will only be a small part. There will also be readings in Hindi,” says columnist Anil Dharker, who will reprise his role as anchor.
A line-up of events and interactions with popular authors is also planned. Patrick French, author of India A Portrait: An Intimate Biography Of 1.2 Billion People, was recently in the city to discuss his book. He will be followed by Aatish Taseer, writer and son of slain Pakistani politician Salman Taseer, who will headline an event on August 22, sharing his tome, Stranger to History: A Son’s Journey Through Islamic Lands. All the events are free, as Dharker says, “Any entry fee becomes a deterrent, even if it is small. This way people can make up their minds to go at the last minute.”
He also makes an appeal for volunteers to join them, saying, “As the festival draws nearer, we need more hands, especially from people who are passionate and have time. We need suggestions for more authors to feature, and those who can help spread the word about colleges and other institutions.”