Another literary festival is going to be held in Bombay on December 7. This is in addition to the Bombay Litfest organised by India’s top business how – The Tata Group – that concluded a few weeks ago in controversy over its awarding the lifetime achievement award to VS Naipaul, a writer of Indian descent. Playwright Girish Karnad tore into the works of VS Naipaul using the platform of the festival itself, resulting in anger and red faces and jaw-dropping embarrassment.
This festival is organised by the country’s leading newspaper The Times of India and has in its marquee writers such as: Anita Desai, Kiran Desai (Anita’s daughter), and a wide range of authors from around the world including the peripatetic William Dalrymple who organises the Jaipur Literary Litfest (boasting of being the biggest such festivals in the world). The festival starts on December 7 and ends on December 9, 2012. (Those interested can go to the programme at www.timesliterarycarniaval.com.) A lifetime achievement award is being conferred on Anita Desai, also an expatriate and one hopes this also doesn’t end in controversy.
Now an anti-view, a kind of warning about these literary jamborees comes from a newspaper from the south The Hindu. The account is written by Akshay Phatak and lists some of the sordid goings on behind the glitz and glamour. He isn’t kind to literary festivals and especially the ones organised in India. Do these festivals serve any purpose? Are they mere waste of time? Well, I will be attending to check things out as it is being held in my city, Bombay.