Non-Fiction Festival 2014 at Mumbai

Day 1

Intense discussions on politics, thought provoking ones on entrepreneurship and inspiring ones on the future of our country, demanded audience’s attention on Day 1 at the India Non-Fiction Festival (INFF), being held at the Nehru Center, Worli.

 Kiran Rao, Subroto Bagchi and Ajit Balakrishnan inaugurated the India Non-Fiction Festival by lighting the lamp of knowledge.The esteemed panellists then had an engaging discussion about India and being Indian. 

The book launch of ‘The New Clash of Civilizations: How the Contest between America, China, India and Islam will Shape Our Century’ by Minhaz Merchant, was accompanied by an enriching discussion on the history and politics, with Amish Tripathi, Sabira Merchant and Zeenat Shaukat. 

The book launch of ‘Idlis, Orchid and Willpower,’ authored by Vithal Kamat was steamy and inspiring. Farzana Contractor and Kumar Ketkar who were present as panelists for the launch shared many anecdotes about their common friend Vithal Kamat giving the audience a taste of the man who has gumption by the galleons and confidence by tons.

 The festival is also a chance for aspiring authors to sell their idea to publishers. In its session ‘Get Booked’ many talented want-to-be authors took the stage and delighted the publishers and the audiences alike with their book ideas and the way it germinated in their minds. Naresh Fernandes and Rana Dasgupta took us on a ride chronicling the good, the bad and the ugly of Mumbai and Delhi. With ‘Konjo the Fighting spirit’ Sandeep Goyal told the impossible story of a man just before he turned forty decided to test fate. 


Day 2

Today being the ‘Voters Day,’ India Non-Fiction Festival (INFF) had an initiative called ‘I Vote’. More than 200 youth of Mumbai took a pledge to vote in the coming elections and fifty of them received their voting cards at the event. The Collector of Mumbai, Chandrashekhar V Oak gave and inspiring speech about the importance of the youth of this country coming together through the voting method and create a better future for all.

 The talk of betterment continued with renowned documentary filmmakers like Anil Zankar, Aditya Seth, Kundu and Pankaj Butalia spoke about creating non-fiction movies with a creative twist. The difference between news and documentaries and the various efforts being made by individuals and government to improve the documentary market.

 In the session ‘Mythology: Non Fiction’ Ashwin Sanghi, Swami Shubh Vilas and Vinod Advani enthralled the audience with amazing insight from the world of Mythology. “A Myth is a lie that reveals a truth,” said Ashwin Sanghi.Swami Vilas continued on this journey by connecting the world of Ram to that of a common man. “History which we do not have access to because of separation of time becomes mythology,” he announced.

In another session ‘Heroes Everywhere and Within’ Geeta Anand, Faith Johnston, Jerry Almedia and Manjeet Kriplani spoke about how there is a hero within all of us and all we need to do is try and find it. While Sanskars in the New India by R Gopalkrishnan and Kumaar Bagrodia had a conversation about the culture of our country, the changes we see in values today and their own personal journey on this earth. 

 Suraj Eskay Sriram, won the audience with his humor and wit at the launch of his book ‘Excuse Me; Can We Have Our Country Back?’ Every day, the common man in India struggles against the ills of corruption, poor governance and much more. With tongue-in-cheek cartoons and illustrations, this book highlights the plight of the citizens of this country. 

 ‘Indian Youth and Electoral Politics’ by Sanjay Kumar, explores the significant relationship between Indian youth and electoral politics in the country.

 The launch of the book and the panel discussion with Sanjay Pugalia, Meera Sanyal, Niranjan Rajaadhyaksha, that followed, discussed issues like Does a young candidate matter to the young voters? Do youth vote more enthusiastically if there are young candidates contesting elections? The book looks at the level of awareness of the youth about political issues and analyzes youth interest and participation in electoral politics.

 ‘Elections 2014, Media & Women: Trapping the power within’ with Uday Shankar, Somnath Batabyal, R Jagannathan and Sangita Menon Malhan was an interesting discussion on why the women in this country do not vote and how campaigns like ‘Jago Re’ by Tata can actually create a difference. 

 Debunking Myths about the Occult’ was a mystical session where powers of Feng Shui, Heaven, earth and mankind energy were discussed by Dimple Luniya, Vandana Malik and Lubna Salim. Where to keep your gas and how to place your pillow were discussed with much ardor and Chinese astrology reasoning.

 In ‘A Different Cinema and our Reality’ Jigna Kothari and Pankaj Butalia took the audience on a magical journey in the land of dreams, Cinema. The way movies are made, characters created and the craft of creating sensational, dramatic, emotional, inspirational scenes on celluloid were discussed with much passion and zeal. The audience was in rapture indeed.

Jaipur Literature Festival 2014 – Day 4

Day 4
20 January, 2014

ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival gives back to the Jaipur community

through encouraging new and local writers

ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival has once again championed young writers through their outreach and engagement activities in and around Jaipur. For the third year, the Festival has partnered with Pratham Books to produce over 25 interactive sessions, promoting the love of books to schools across Jaipur including, SKIT, Jaipur; The Step by Step, St. Xavier, Pratham supported schools and Vodafone supported schools.

Authors taking part this year include, Paro Anand (author), Valentina Trivedi (storyteller), Anita Mani (Storyteller/news-for-children newspaper editor), Ajit Narayan (Illustrator/cartoonist), Devyani Bhardwaj (Poet/journalist/translator). Visiting Festival authors include journalist and author of When the Crocodile Eats the Sun, Peter Godwin, Harvard history professor and author of the award winning Liberty Exiles, Dr. Maya Jasanoff, actor, writer and director Mahesh Dattani and art historian Partha Mitter who specialises in Indian art.

Dr. Peter Stanley, a Professor at the University of New South Wales, Festival author and Outreach Participant commented, “It was a pleasure to participate in the JLF-Pratham Books Outreach Program by talking to, and with, the students. I very much enjoyed my encounter with Young India, and wish we could have had longer sessions!”

Local author Valentina Trivedi also said, “I was thrilled to field questions on creative writing process from the children many of whom might come up as authors in due course of time. It was one of the most fulfilling experiences for me.” Himanshu Giri, Chief Operating Officer of Pratham Books added, “Children and Institutions at Jaipur have given us overwhelming response and it is quite likely that by next year we will double the number of sessions for outreach at Zee JLF and make attempt to reach to more and more children.”

During the event, the Festival also champions and encourages new writers through the official
Festival blog. A team of 12 writers drawn from across Jaipur and the rest of the world cover the Festival, attending sessions, and publishing blogs on the festival website.

One of the participants, Deeptarka Mukherjee from Jaipur said, “Being on the JLF blog has been an exhilarating and refreshing experience, also a great learning for me and I think this will contribute very much towards my career.”

Sanjoy K. Roy, producer of the Festival said, “Although the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival plays host to some of the world’s most eminent authors, supporting, encouraging and promoting new talent is key to our mission as the world’s largest free literary festival.”

Jaipur Literature Festival – Day 4 – Weather Plays Spoilsport

Day 4
January 20 2014

Morning sessions moved inside due to the weather, though the Festival saw highest number of unique visitors over the weekend.

The ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival returned to its roots today with the morning’s programme taking place in the cafés, restaurants and spare rooms of Diggi Palace, due to the weather.

Persistent heavy rain overnight in Jaipur meant that today’s line-up, including Tash Aw, Vikram Chandra and S.R.Faruqi, offered Festival-goers a more intimate setting to get to know the writers.

Having experienced over 200,000 footfall in recent years, many Festival visitors relished the opportunity to get closer to the writers, with many huddling up together over free cups of chai, provided by the owners of Diggi Palace.

The rain had not stopped the world’s largest free literary festival achieving the highest number of unique visitors in Festival history on Sunday, with a footfall of 75,210. Overall, footfall at the Festival has increased 25%, chiefly due to increased capacity and better traffic flow around the Festival site.

The Festival bookstore had, until yesterday, sold over 10,000 books in four days.

Sanjoy K. Roy, Festival producer said, “The weather has not dampened spirits at the Festival one bit, in fact rain in the desert is a blessing! It is great to see our guests mixing together with world-class writers in such an intimate setting. It reminds me of when the Festival began in 2007 with visitors huddled in the Durbar Hall. The Festival had anticipated the weather and so preparations were made well in advance and hence, the last day of the programme was able to begin on time.”

The rain is due to ease in the afternoon, with sessions set to return to their usual venues.
The interim venues are as follows:

# Morning Music shifted to British Airways Baithak
# Front Lawn shifted Diggi Dining Room
# Char Bagh shifted to lobby of the building behind front lawn stage
# Samvad shifted to room behind the front lawn stage
# Lunch time session with Anurag Basu will take place at Baithak
# Debate shifted to Baithak

Jaipur Literature Festival 2014 – Day 2

Day 2
18 January, 2014

The Crime Writers’ Association of South Asia was launched today at the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival by leading novelists Kishwar Desai, Namita Gokhale and Jørn Lier Horst. “A wave of crime writing is better than a wave of crime”, said Namita Gokhale, co-Director of the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival and founding member of the Crime Writers’ Association of South Asia, as she spoke to the press.

Kishwar Desai, another founding member of the Association said, “The CWASA will be a platform for crime writers to connect with agents and publishers. We are also in the process of planning a weekend Festival of crime writing in Delhi this September.”

The Association is also supported by NORLA, (Norwegian Fiction and Non-Fiction Abroad). NORLA is a government-funded, non-commercial foundation which promotes Norwegian literature to other countries. Ms Margit Walsø, Director, NORLA, congratulated the founding members and said that she hoped to see even greater translation between the popular Norwegian crime writers and Indian languages.

Jørn Lier Horst, celebrated Norwegian author of the William Wisting series of novels commented that crime writing is one most important and popular forms of fiction, and echoed the need for greater translation, particularly when writing in a country with a population of 5 million people. The Crime Writers’ Association South Asia is linked to the Crime Writers’ Association in the UK, which was set up by prolific author John Creasey in 1953. It is also building links to other countries which have a strong base in crime writing, both fiction and non-fiction.

DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2014

And the winner is: CYRUS MISTRY’S ‘Chronicle of a Corpse Bearer’ announced a few minutes ago at Jaipur Literature Festival 2014.


The widely acclaimed DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2014 announced Cyrus Mistry as the winner this year for his book ‘Chronicle of a Corpse Bearer’ at the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival. The US $50,000 DSC Prize along with a unique trophy was awarded to Cyrus who is the second Indian to win this award. His winning book mirrors the painful saga of love within the small Parsi community of corpse bearers.

The six shortlisted authors and books in contention for the DSC Prize were Anand: Book of Destruction (Translated by Chetana Sachidanandan; Penguin, India), Benyamin: Goat Days (Translated by Joseph Koyippalli; Penguin, India), Cyrus Mistry: Chronicle of a Corpse Bearer (Aleph Book Company, India), Mohsin Hamid: How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia (Hamish Hamilton/Penguin, India), Nadeem Aslam: The Blind Man’s Garden (Random House, India), Nayomi Munaweera: Island of a Thousand Mirrors (Perera Hussein Publishing, Sri Lanka)

The DSC Prize Secretariat had received close to 70 entries this year with participation from publishers in South Asia, UK, USA, Canada and Australia amongst others. The DSC Prize for South Asian Literature which is specifically focused on South Asian writing is unique in the sense that it is not ethnicity driven in terms of the author’s origin and is open to any author belonging to any part of the globe as long as the work is based on the South Asian region and its people.  The last three years have had winners from three different countries in South Asia further reflecting the importance of South Asia’s rapidly expanding book market.

The fourth edition of the DSC Prize 2014 was judged by a diverse and distinguished Jury comprising of eminent members from the international literary fraternity – Antara Dev Sen, editor, writer and literary critic and chair of the DSC Prize jury, Arshia Sattar, an eminent Indian translator, writer and a teacher, Ameena Saiyid, the MD of Oxford University Press in Pakistan, Rosie Boycott, acclaimed British journalist and editor and Paul Yamazaki, a veteran bookseller and one of the most respected names in the book trade in the US.

While announcing the winner, Antara Dev Sen, the DSC Prize 2014 Jury Chair said, “Cyrus Mistry’s Chronicle of a Corpse Bearer is a deeply moving book, exquisitely drawn on a small, almost claustrophobic canvas. It takes a tiny slice of life, the life of the Khandhias or corpse bearers of the Parsi community, and weaves a powerful story about this downtrodden caste we know so little about. A fantastic storyteller, Mistry offers a beautiful novel rich in historical detail and existential angst, gently questioning the way we look at justice, custom, love, life and death.”