Source : The Hindu
The Hindu Lit for Life is back with a bang — with an assembly of distinguished writers from India and across the world
At a time of mindlessness and violence, when questions are many and answers few, we can do little apart from turning to books. Books help us make sense of the senseless, provide hope in times of despair, and take us to magical worlds far removed from reality.
It’s that time of the year to buy books, to gift books, to listen to people talk about books. The Hindu Lit for Life is back again in its eighth edition at the Sir Mutha Venkatasubba Rao Concert Hall in Chennai from January 14-16. But before you pore over the schedule to pick out your favourite sessions, there’s more in store: for the first time, on January 7, we bring to you a one-day Tamil Lit Fest.
A platform for all
“We will be celebrating 100 years of the Tamil short story in addition to recognising excellence in Tamil writing through special awards in various categories, including the lifetime achievement award,” says Nirmala Lakshman, festival director and Director of The Hindu group of publications.
A film on Tamil writer Ashokamitran will premier at the main festival.
If there are special sessions to celebrate local literature, global literature will be served in equal measure. “We are one of the few truly international festivals around,” says Rachna Singh Davidar, programme director. “There is no tokenism to our internationalism — we have the best writers and speakers coming to Chennai from all over the world. But this is not at the expense of our own writers, our own culture.”
Apart from this mix, what sets The Hindu Lit for Life apart is that it is one of the “most classical literature festivals,” she says. “At the heart of the festival are writers and their books. Everything else is secondary.”
The Hindu Lit for Life has also always been a platform to engage with the important questions of the day — the changing face of India, corruption, and the threat to secularism.
“The main Lit for Life festival has several special sessions that examine and debate current trends such as the shrinking space for dissent in the public arena, the very palpable and ominous threats to free expression ranging from actual physical violence including murder and lynchings to trolling on social media and censorship of various kinds,” says Lakshman. “In that context we will re-examine what secularism means today and also whether as a nation our fundamental principles are under siege.”
The audience is growing every year, but what is especially heartwarming is that it has become more inclusive, says Prasanna Ramaswamy, programme consultant. “I see a lot of young people not only sitting through sessions but also engaging in animated discussions,” she says.
While this is an indication of a growing interest in literature, contrary to popular belief that people read and engage less in this Age of Distraction, it also poses a challenge. “At some point we will begin losing the wonderful intimacy of the festival and that would be a shame. The greatest challenge is how to enable the fest to grow without losing that charm,” says Davidar.
The Hindu Prize 2017 has five books on the shortlist: Leila by Prayaag Akbar, When I Hit You by Meena Kandasamy, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy, The Small Town Sea by Anees Salim, and Temporary People by Deepak Unnikrishnan. The prize will be announced on January 16.