Lit for Life, a festival that celebrates literature in India, was kicked off by The Hindu Group of Publications in New Delhi on February 6. The Delhi segment featured a discussion on the book “Accidental India – A History of the Nation’s Passage Through Crisis and Change” by Shankar Aiyar. The speakers were Communist Party of India (Marxist) politburo member Brinda Karat, Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jayanthi Natarajan, economist and professor at the Centre for Policy Research, and columnist Bibek Debroy and editor of The Hindu, Siddharth Varadarajan. The event also featured a presentation of photographs by award-winning photographer Steve McCurry, famed for his picture of the “Afghan Girl” on the cover of National Geographic.
The event saw the announcement of the shortlist for The Hindu Literary Prize, an award given to encourage Indian writers in English. The shortlist: Anjum Hasan for Difficult Pleasures, Easterine Kire for Bitter Wormwood, Jeet Thayil for Narcopolis, Jerry Pinto for Em and the Big Hoom, and Kiran Nagarkar for The Extras.
Previous winners of The Hindu Literary Prize are Manu Joseph (2010) for ‘Serious Men’ and Rahul Bhattacharya (2011) for ‘The Sly Company of People who Care’. The conclave will now move to Chennai (February 16-17, 2013, at Sir Mutha Venkatasubbarao Auditorium) for two days of discussions, lectures and workshops by speakers such as Gopal Krishna Gandhi, Rahul Bose, Jeet Thayil and Sidin Vadukut. The winner of The Hindu Literary Prize 2012 will be announced in the Chennai segment of the festival on February 17.
“For a publication respected for its English, credibility and authenticity, it’s not surprising that The Hindu Literary Prize has rapidly become the most coveted award in its genre in India,” said Suresh Srinivasan, VP, Advertisements, The Hindu. “Lit for Life is an opportunity for our readers to engage in conversations with leading world class authors and participate in the workshops and seminars of their interest.”
The festival was conceptualised by Nirmala Lakshman, Director, Kasturi & Sons Ltd (publishers of The Hindu). “Lit for Life is a festival which will make the experience of books and reading more meaningful to readers. It is an opportunity for people to interact directly with many well-known authors,” said Ms Lakshman. “It is also a chance to engage with issues of contemporary interest through discussions and workshops that we hope will be of lasting value to them. Through The Hindu Literary Prize being given for the best published work of fiction this year, The Hindu recognizes, felicitates and supports excellence in writing in India.”