The fourth edition of Hyderabad Literary Festival made some brows frown and voices heard. Giving a sweet taste to bibliophiles, it left a void that was both un-accommodated and yet accommodated with writers in 'demand'. Cityplus brings you its snapshots.
If books bring you closer to different literatures of the world, then literary fests bring those to you who actually create them. Under the giant umbrella of lit fests 'literally' important and oh-so-serious-discussions brew up on the dais ending with a cup of frothy tea in the open lounge areas - the flavour depending on which side of the globe you are from. From the hip hop Jaipur Lit Fest to the lesser-known Taj Lit Fest, India's presence on literary map is making its stamp.
This year's Hyderabad Literary Festival saw a flock of writers who flew from countries as far as Czechoslovakia, Germany, Scotland and United States to Ireland, which was the guest nation of the lit fest.
At the five venues on Road No. 8, Banjara Hills Ashiana was abuzz with hubbub of literary activities. Amidst the small book stalls set up in the lawn established writers, wannabes, transgender writers, gay poets, Dalit writers to teeny boppers and I-also-read flash mob jostled for space bumping into occasional Oh-I-know-you figures.
Slight pecks, little shrieks, hands trying to balance 'Amish' atop 'The Chomsky Effect' saw discussions on Wilde and Whitman to Ireland and Israel to lambasts on fading Spring Revolution. Other than the jostling jamboree Hyderabad Lit Fest turned out to be heated cubicle for imperialistic English.
In the panel discussion 'Literature of Ireland' chaired by Declan Meade, Kashmiri US poet and photographer RafiqKathwari, who is also an honorary citizen of Ireland, called the English speakers in once-British-colonies 'the children of Macaulay', "Our English pronunciations tell how costly our education has been! Eight hundred years before the British colonized India they had practiced Imperialism in Ireland. That's how G. B. Shaw's writings are glorious as well as abusive. Writing should find its way in tradition and still belong to the world of literature." Irish writer Gabriel Rosenstock took over saying, "Apart from Latin and Greek Irish is the oldest language and literature of the world. The heritage we have is very rich."
From the discussions on 'World Englishes' to 'The Magical Journey of Indian Cinema' the topics were as diverse as 'Speaking in Many Voices' by noted writer Githa Hariharan. She launched a book of essays edited by her named 'From India to Palestine: Essays in Solidarity'. She said, "When it comes to Palestine, it is a product of movement against colonization. Palestine is the last bastion of colonization. Within Israel it is doing injustice not only to Palestinians but also to Israelis. There are different strategies of attack over there. If you want to attack religion the target is Jerusalem; commerce the target is Hebron, the commercial centre."
Spivak, arguably the most difficult cultural theorist of our times emphasized that translations can be dangerously deceptive. But US poet and translator Bill Wolak's translation of Persian poet Hafez's verses from Persian into English was a breather. Many other Indian language poets like DileepJhaveri conducted poetry readings with fluidity. The lying-low activists were woken up with a jolt by the panel discussion 'Translating a Movement' comprising the strong voices of flaring Telugu Dalit poet Gogu Shyamala and others like Gita Ramaswamy and Purushotham K.
Crunched between the readings were workshops, theatre performances, new book releases for those on literary overdose. From the popcorn munching hip students to old lit-lovers in crisp saris the five venues of Hyderabad literary Festival, 2014 saw gossips on emerging writers, South Asian voices, US residency programs to high profile publishing pimps on the three days of the festival that began on January 24th and came to an end on 26th. Academics and literature watch dogs are already speculating what HLF 2015 will bring.
[This article had originally appeared in Jagran CityPlus (Feb 1-7, 2014) Issue.