I like literature. Inevitably, I like Literature Festivals too. They are a great to place to be at. You get to hang out with your bookish friends, and sometimes make new ones too. Most importantly, you get to hear the voices which till now have talked to you only through books.
I started going to LitFests a year ago, so I am not much of a veteran. But in the four trips in two years to Mumbai’s two major LitFests — Tata Literature Live and Times Literary Carnival — I have gathered enough experience to talk about them authoritatively (though I have nothing of significance to say, really).
LitFests are generally organised in the winter season in various Indian cities. Readers and writers both throng to these places to take part in discussions, interviews, book launches and poetry recitals. Most of the sessions are good, some are bad (especially if Suhel Seth and Shobhaa De happen to be on the same panel) and some are excellent. (Read here what Jerry Pinto thinks about them.) But it is not the sessions that entices me the most, it is the ambience and the cosyness of the place — a place which, you know, is inhabited only by books and book lovers.
LitFests give a chance to interact with authors. The authors coming here are generally accessible and receptive (the image of a typical author as a “social recluse” is a misnomer, believe me). You can approach them to get your books signed, ask advice about writing or talk about literature in general. I prefer not to do any of this though. Autograph collection is not my hobby and also talking with strangers is not really my strong-point. I instead prefer to discuss literature with my own friends (and since we are at a LitFest, the discussions invariably revolve around literature).
The LitFests season in Mumbai is over now with the conclusion of Times Lit Carnival last week. But the biggest LitFest in the country, the Jaipur Literature Festival, is happening next month. I wish I could go but office commitments will not allow me to take a week-long break. So now it’s a long wait till next year’s winter.
PS: I will be heading to Mumbai Films & Comic Convention — popularly known as ComicCon — next week. Hope to see you there.