Literary festivals have boomed over the years to whet the appetite of the Indian reader. India is one of the world’s largest consumers of literature. With 9,000 publishers and over 21,000 retailers, the Indian book market is the sixth largest in the world.
We have listed out some of the best literary festivals in the country for the avid reader in you.
- Gateway Litfest:
Where? The 2017 edition was hosted in Mumbai.
Multiple literature festivals has since long have had a target audience of urban English and Hindi speaking populace, which has lead to the regional languages being relegated to the sidelines. Founded to popularize regional languages among the mainstream audience, The Gateway Litfest currently has shortlisted seven regional languages to focus on – Kannada, Gujarati, Marathi, Malayalam, Oriya, Tamil, and Bengali along with English and Hindi. Regional language writers such as Prathiba Ray, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, and Hemant Divate were some of the speakers who have helped in bringing forward India’s regional literary wealth.
- Jaipur Literature Festival:
Where? Diggi House, Shivaji Marg, C-Scheme, Jaipur, Rajasthan.
Going by attendance figures alone, the famous Jaipur Literature Festival is the world’s largest free literary festival, attracting over 800,000 visitors! Held at the Diggi Palace in Jaipur, Rajasthan, the festival attracts Noble Laureates, Booker Prize winners, and Pulitzer Prize winners rub shoulders with other renowned literary figures, in the month of January. Each year, there are interesting sessions held around contemporary topics, with live musical performances as an added interest.
The numbers of attendees continue to grow, and it’s hardly surprising when the festival invites big names such as Salman Rushdie, Pico Iyer, Orhan Pamuk, and Amartya Sen.
- Tata Literature Live:
Where? NCPA Marg, Nariman Point, Mumbai, Maharashtra.
Held in the first week of November at Mumbai’s National Centre of Performing Arts, the Tata Literature Live has grown to become India’s finest festivals, that saw over 130 speakers from 15 countries attending the four-day event in 2017. You can expect lively debates on emerging trends and issues, new forms of literature and writing, old authors and epics. Notable speakers included Devdutt Patnaik, Girish Karnad, Homi K. Bhabha, James Tooley, Thomas Friedman and more.
- Times Literary Carnival:
Where? Mehboob Studios, Hill Road, Bandra, Mumbai
Also known as the Times LitFest, the three-day event hosts some of India’s best speakers and writers as they grace the venue at Mehboob Studios in Bandra, Mumbai. Held annually in December, the festival is awaited eagerly by many Mumbaikars as it brings the best of literature-inclined Mumbai together for insightful conversation and debate. You might even bump into a Bollywood celebrities, if you’re lucky! The 2017 edition is scheduled to be held between December 15th and 17th.
- Apeejay Kolkata Literature Festival:
Where? Held over various venues in Kolkata and at the Oxford Book Store at Park Street, Kolkata.As one of the first literature festival of the year, this one begins early in January. The Apeejay Kolkata Literature Festival showcases Kolkata, alongside eminent speakers, journalists, musicians, and artists. The festival also organizes workshops for budding writers. Past speakers include Shashi Tharoor and Ramachandra Guha.
- Hyderabad Literary Festival
Where? SP Road Begumpet, Hyderabad
The exciting itinerary of the Hyderabad Literary Festival includes conversations with authors, reading, panel discussion, workshop and book launches as well as cultural programmes – most importantly, all this for absolutely no charge!
Each year, a delegated from a non-Indian nation is invited to attend and showcase their literature and culture. In 2017, the Philippines was the guest nation. The festival also picks one regional Indian language each year to promote the literary works. Past speakers include Arun Shourie, Prakash Raj, and Sunita Krishnan.
In this age of literary festivals, you might also find the following to your liking:
- Goa Arts and Literature Festival – A festival for literature and art which promotes writers and artists from Goa. The 2017 festival is scheduled for 7–10 December.
- Kerala Literature Festival – Held at Kozhikode beach, the Kerala Literature festival was conceived as a platform chiefly for Malayalam writers to meet, discuss, and debate issues.
- Lit for Life – An annual literary festival held in January, Lit for Life is organized by the English daily, the Hindu in Chennai.
- Bookaroo – A festival of children’s literature, Bookaroo is held in multiple cities including Bangalore, Kolkata, New Delhi, and Pune.