At The Hindu Lit For Life 2017, writer Markus Zusak had said, “We live in a world where everyone says people aren’t interested in books anymore. I think you need to come to a festival like this to realise people love books.”
After three years, The Hindu Lit for Life is back in its physical format to celebrate words and ideas, provide a platform for debate and discussion, and bring together bibliophiles. This time, as a one-and-a-half-day affair, “it’s much like a short story versus a novel,” programme director Rachna Davidar said.
The festival, which will be held on February 24 and 25 at the Music Academy in Chennai, will be inaugurated by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul.
“I think given the limitations of time, we’ve managed to cover a range of issues from biographies, translations, film, important non-fiction and fiction as well,” Nirmala Lakshman, festival director, curator, and Director, The Hindu Group, said on the challenges of bringing back the thrill of the spoken word after a pandemic-induced hiatus. “What is special this year is that we have managed to squeeze in the Lit For Life dialogue which was a staple each year and usually organised a few months before the festival.” The Lit for Life dialogue will take place between monk and motivational speaker Gaur Gopal Das and Vidya Singh on Mr. Das’s latest book, Energise Your Mind, in which he guides readers on how to discipline their minds better.
The festival has a diverse line-up. Geetanjali Shree, the 2022 International Booker Prize winner, will speak to Anita Ratnam about the making of a masterpiece. After letting his cricket do the talking for years, Pakistan cricketer Wasim Akram will be in conversation with N. Ram, Director of The Hindu Publishing Group, and celebrated Australian sports journalist Gideon Haigh about his memoir Sultan. Entrepreneur G.R. Gopinath will be in conversation with Gopalkrishna Gandhi, Sumanth Raman and Sushila Ravindranath about his book Our India. The award-winning actor Deepti Naval will speak to Rosella Stephen about her autobiography, being born immediately after Partition, and how her childhood in Amritsar affected many of her decisions. Senior journalist P. Sainath will speak about the lesser-known heroes who spearheaded the Indian freedom movement.
“The contours of our curation rest solidly on certain fundamental aspects such as our firm belief in the freedom of speech and expression. We also believe in programming that is inclusive and wide-ranging in value so that the audience is enlightened and entertained by the work and writers we feature,” Dr. Lakshman said.
Sessions will also focus on the pressing issues of our times. T.M. Krishna, Dhanya Rajendran, Suhrith Parthasarathy and Apar Gupta will discuss the Information Technology Rules of 2021 and its implications for free speech across mediums. In ‘Building Climate Resilience’, Arunabha Ghosh, Shawn Sebastian and IAS officer Supriya Sahu will be in conversation with Sahana Ghosh. K. Srilata will speak to Ramya Kannan about the triumphs and struggles of persons with disabilities. Navtej Sarna, Ramesh Inder Singh and Amandeep Sandhu will speak to Mandira Nayar about Punjab’s past and present.
As the hunger for translated fiction is only increasing across the world, Mini Krishnan, Prabha Sridevan, D.I. Aravindan and Kavitha Muralidharan will be speaking of the challenges of editing and marketing translated works. The festival will end with a play, Dear Omana, written by Krishna Shastri Devulapalli and directed by Nikhila Kesavan.
“In a more intimate festival, every session needs to count,” Ms. Davidar said. “We couldn’t afford any flab so we focused on having sharp, stimulating sessions with great speakers who would work across the literary spectrum.”
Prasanna Ramaswamy, programme consultant, said as the festival has become more and more inclusive, the audience profile too encompasses a wide spectrum. “And we have seen that the growing number of young people not only sit through sessions, but also engage animatedly about the sessions in the environs.”
The Hindu Lit for Life 2023 is powered by Life Insurance Corporation of India in association with Ajay Toothbrushes. The Associate Partners are NITTE Education Trust, Hindustan Group of Institutions, State Bank of India, Sai University and Viveks Jewellery. Partner: Joyalukkas. The Mobility Partner is Hyundai, Banking Partner is Indian Bank Realty, the Author Lounge Partner is VFS Global, the Realty Partner is Casagrand, the Knowledge Partner is SSVM Institutions, the Bookstore Partner is Higginbothams, the Gift Partner is Anand Prakash, and the Water Partner is Repute.
This is the registration link to the festival: bit.ly/THLFL23