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Ayn Rand to Oscar Wilde – a lit fest wishlist

Authors, publishers and literary agents on that one literary figure from the past they would want to see at a lit fest

brunch Updated: Jan 21, 2017 19:44 IST
Author Meghna Pant would like to see Ayn Rand at a lit fest
Author Meghna Pant would like to see Ayn Rand at a lit fest

The 10th edition of the Jaipur Literature Festival is on. And the who’s who of the literary world have arrived at the Pink City from across the world. This got us thinking – which of our favourite literary figures from the past would we love to see at the lit fests of today? So we got authors, publishers, columnists and literary agents to tell us their pick. Who’d be yours? Tweet us your choices @HTBrunch #BrunchBookChallenge

Meghna Pant, Author - Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand is one author who showed us how to write, and how to live. She made struggle and obscurity sexy. Most importantly, she dared us to think. She gave the world a new philosophy, that of objectivism, a morality based on nothing but reason. She was outspoken and controversial. I’d have loved to see her take centre stage at a lit fest and translate her masterful mind into spoken words. I’d consider my life complete to hear her mouth her most brilliant line: The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.

Shweta Taneja, Author - Douglas Adams

I can almost imagine Douglas Adams at a lit fest, observing quietly, sipping tea and laughing on the inside. I’m a huge fan of the Hitchhikers series and his sense of humour is fantastic. Given his style of writing and the inherent satire, his witticisms at the festival would take a few seconds to sink in and that would be fun!

Rosalyn D’mello, Author & columnist - Henry Miller

I think lit fests could use a touch of irreverence, the kind Miller was synonymous with. Also, his engagement with a diversity of subjects, from the spiritual teachings of Krishnamurti to his fascination with Dostoyevsky, his appreciation of Anaïs Nin’s erotic writing, his involvement with psychoanalysis, film theory and other such subjects would have made him such a treat to listen to.

Sreemoyee Piu Kundu, Author - Rabindranath Tagore

A true visionary, Tagore was a master of the written word and there would be nothing more enriching than seeing him in flesh and blood. From poems, songs and prose to musical plays and dance dramas, he’s explored every form of literature. A lit fest with him in attendance – now I would give an arm and a leg to attend that!

Kanishka Gupta, Literary agent - Ismat Chughtai

A session on feminism and censorship featuring Ismat Chughtai and the unsung, extremely controversial Urdu writer Wajida Tabassum. At a time when sex and sexuality were considered taboo, these women were writing about same sex relationships and the deviance of Hyderabadi Nawabs. 

Amish Tripathi, Author - Shudraka

Shudraka wrote awesome Sanskrit plays, such as Mrichchhakatika. I would’ve loved to ask him about the plays and the characters in them. Also, there is some mystery on who Shudraka really was. Legends suggest that Shudraka was the pen name of a king. I would’ve loved for this mystery to be cleared.

Poulomi Chatterjee, Publisher - Oscar Wilde

Not just because I adore his plays and stories. He is known to have been a superb conversationalist, sharper and wittier in person than in his writing; a personality, as it were. It would be quite an experience.

From HT Brunch, January 22, 2016

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