The newspaper creates a community
January 28, 2017 | By Priyanka Dey
The grandeur and popularity of The Hindu Lit for Life fest can be measured by the testimonials it has garnered from the world of literati and the arts. To cite just a few here: Shashi Tharoor called it “a stimulating and literate environment,” William Dalrymple described it as “a terrific festival with an inspired program and fabulous audiences,” and Ananth Padmanabhan of HarperCollins India termed it as “arguably the best lit fest” he’s ever been to.
The praises keep flowing in for the terrific festival that attracts thousands of people from all over the world to Chennai every year. The three-day event wound up its seventh edition on 16 January 2017, playing host to an eminent guest list featuring authors like Perumal Murugan, Kiran Doshi, Karan Mahajan and Markus Zusak. Other personalities to grace the event included JNU ex-president Kanhaiya Kumar, lyricist Vairamuthu and many more.
This year’s Hindu Lit for Life introduced a children’s literary fest that offered workshops, a science lab, Zumba classes, storytelling sessions and coloring workshops before winding it up with a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party on the evening of 16 January. For youth above 18, the fest offered workshops on translations, film reading, Shakespeare, Bollywood and more.
JNU ex-president Kanhaiya Kumar shared his thoughts on ‘Is India Ready for Revolution?’ He said, “Forget revolution, we are fighting to save democracy.” He went on to suggest that “the current situation of the younger generation and the education system is such that degrees have become important, while education has taken a backseat.”
Another session by Markus Zusak, author of “The Book Thief,” kept audiences hooked as he read a few lines from his iconic book, which centers round the life of a 14-year-old girl living in Germany during World War II. Zusak confessed, “I was a complete mess when I was writing the last 50 pages of the book. I loved Rudy. I had to soften the blow (of his death) for my own benefit.” Retired diplomat Kiran Doshi bagged the coveted Hindu Prize for 2016 for his book, ‘Jinnah Often Came to Our House.’ The award, which includes a citation and a cash prize of Rs. 5 lakh, was given away by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Geraldine Brooks. Receiving the award, Doshi credited living in cities like Chennai, which were “full of events,” to have triggered his ideas. He also said that 35 years of diplomacy and 10 years of education after that shaped his ideas.
Commenting on the festival, Nirmala Lakhaman, festival director and director of The Hindu group of publications said, “The Hindu Lit for Life defends free speech and expression, celebrates diversity and unique voices. For a newspaper, it is not only an online presence that matters nowadays but a presence on the ground too. The festival brings the paper to its readers and places writers and readers on the same platform.”
As the festival came to a close, it was the book lovers who emerged true winners of the Hindu Lit Fest, as they joined in a very happy journey of arts, culture, literature and more. For the newspaper the event was a manifestation of its rich community of readers and the culture it champions.