There are no outdoor tents, no security checks, no big celebrities or crowds.
In fact, you don’t really need a microphone to make yourself heard. The Delhi Literature Festival, which began on February 09, is a quiet affair, what the Jaipur Literature Festival might have been like in its initial years.
The two-day festival, which kicked off the launch of author Madhulika Liddle’s book My Lawfully Wedded Husband, is being held at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts, near India Gate.
Nasir Jamal, the festival’s director, believes the time is right for the city to get its own literature festival.
“Delhi is a hub of art and culture, it needed a literature festival. When we came up with the idea, everybody, from the authors to the government, were enthusiastic,” he says.
For a first-time event, the response has been favourable and about 250 people turned up for the first session. After Liddle read out from her book, the audience questioned her about her daily routine and about translating her book in Hindi.
“It’s encouraging to have such a festival in your own city. It’s nice to have a book release which isn’t only attended by your friends and family, but by others who are genuinely interested too,” she said.
At the next session, bloggers-turned-authors and authors-turned-bloggers discussed the impact of new media on the future of literature.
In its first year, the festival has drawn a mixed audience that included a senior citizen who complained about the lack of ‘veteran’ writers on the panel and young students in sweatshirts.
The sessions touch on a range of themes including poetry and politics and literature and cinema.
“I came today because I’m interested in literature. This festival is much less commercial, it’s quieter, and you can hear what people are saying,” said Ishita, a young professional.
While the organisers of the Delhi Literature Festival hope to replicate the success of JLF, the event has some way to go and a few teething troubles (not enough mics, a bumbling emcee) to overcome but its future does look promising.
While JLF has morphed into a Maha Kumbhesque carnival, the intimate appeal of this new event has charmed many attendees.