Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A shout-out for the Chandigarh Literature Festival

One of my regrets last year was being unable to participate in the Chandigarh Literature Festival (the first one, that is – there are now two in that city in November) because I had commitments elsewhere. When Altaf Tyrewala mailed with an invitation and a brief, it was clear that here was a lit-fest – among the dozens of such events we now have across India – making a serious effort to be focused and different (so much so that one almost wondered if they could sustain the format). The idea was irresistible: each session has one critic in conversation with one author about a specific book (which has been proposed by the critic beforehand, as a personal favourite). In the words of the brief, the nominated books “are read out from, enacted, discussed and debated”, and the critic serves as the “literary ambassador” for the book over the duration of the festival.

It’s an excellent idea, and I’m glad to be participating in the festival this year. My choice of book was Rajorshi Chakraborti’s Or the Day Seizes You (each critic was asked to nominate three books, to allow for some flexibility in case an author wasn’t available; happily, Rajorshi – first on my list – could make it). I wrote about Or the Day Seizes You when it came out in 2006 (rereading that post, I feel there’s a lot more I could say about the book today) and have followed everything Rajorshi has published since then, most recently the novel Mumbai Rollercoaster and the short-story collection Lost Men. (He also wrote a superb essay, “Perchance to Dream”, for my anthology The Popcorn Essayists – the piece was about films that had the texture of a dream for him, and included references to works by Buster Keaton, Welles, Kubrick and Truffaut…as well as the frenzied opening 15 minutes of a masala Hindi film from the 1980s!)

Rajorshi apart, the festival is packed with goodies: have a look at the schedule here. (Other participants include some of my favourite writers and critics – Salil Tripathi, Sonia Faleiro, Trisha Gupta, Manu Joseph, Zac O’Yeah and Anjum Hasan – and at least five other books that I have read and hold in high regard: Manu’s Serious Men, Sonia’s Beautiful Thing, Zac’s Once Upon a Time in Scandinavistan, Arshia Sattar’s Lost Loves: Exploring Rama’s Anguish and William Dalrymple’s White Mughals.) Do come across if you are in Chandigarh, or otherwise spread the word to anyone who might be interested.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the information. Am very eager to see Rajorshi. I hope there is a autograph session by him. I have read all his books except lost men and really liked the first 2 novels.