Book-lovers and readers of all descriptions in Kathmandu have had increasing reasons to rejoice of late. A wave of literary festivals has come to be part of the city’s annual calendar, events that have been growing in number and scale over the last few years.
With participants derived from both the Nepali as well as the international literary scene, among other experts and professionals from various related fields, these festivals offer local bibliophiles a chance to catch some of their favourite authors in person and interact with them, or attend discussions on some of their most loved pieces of work.
A relatively new but significant entry among the literary events of varying degrees that dot the yearly list is the Ncell Nepal Literature Festival, the second instalment of which will be held in approximately two weeks time. Organised by the Bookworm Trust, the 2012
edition of the festival is slated to be bigger and better than its predecessor. “There has been a visible rise in interest in literature-related events here, which is a great thing to witness,” says Ajit Baral, the director of the festival. “We’re hoping for increased attendance—double the 5,000 that showed up last year.” The festival will be held at the Nepal Academy in Kamaladi—which will offer larger premises and halls for the various segments to take place in. “The 2011 instalment was more successful than we’d ever expected it to be. We’ve learned a lot of lessons, so this year will be more streamlined.”
Running for the duration of four days, the Nepal Literature Festival this time around will not just make room for more visitors, but also encompass broader areas of literary discourse compared to the previous edition. Interactions and talks will be held on various genres and mediums—whether it be fiction, non-fiction, film, theatre, music, or journalism. “And this time, we have also incorporated children’s literature into the itinerary,” says Baral. Issues like plagiarism, new media and its impact on reading, and Nepali film audiences, among others, will also be prodded at by experts.
Aside from the discussion series, the festival will also include a number of book launches, among which Sakash by Jagadish Ghimire and Kunsang Kaka ko Katha by Khagendra Sangraula comprise the highlights. Attendees at the event are likely to run into other well-known figures like Pradeep Giri, CK Lal, Chaitanya Mishra, Sudheer Sharma, Sunil Pokhrel, Nischal Basnet, Anup Baral and Ashesh Malla.
Baral says that the kind of response the festival received in its first round was very gratifying, especially for international writers who had made the trip last year. Ira Trivedi, author of There is No Love on Wall Street and The Great Indian Love Story, was among these and had expressed her excitement at the rapport she’d found with attendees. “Even Mark Tully, writer and former BBC head in South Asia, said that he’d enjoyed all the presentations and discussions he had been part of and observed,” adds Baral.
So does the growing interest in literary activities signal a real-life boost in general readership? Baral believes so. “I think festivals such as ours represent, on one hand, a means of gauging how far reading has been cultivated in a particular place, and on the other, a way of encouraging the same,” he says. “I can’t speak for whether this is reflected in the actual sales of books, but it’s positive all the same.” Baral says that if the kind of anticipation and attendance that such events generate is anything to go by, things are certainly headed in the right direction.
The Ncell Nepal Literature Festival will be held between September 20-23. A second large-scale literature festival—the Kathmandu Literary Jatra—organised by Quixote’s Cove and the Nepal Economic Forum, has also been announced for November
Tripathi is one of the most internationally successful contemporary Indian writers. His The Immortals of Meluha and The Secret of the Nagas—part of the Shiva Trilogy—have sold over 760,000 copies. Filmmaker Karan Johar’s company, Dharma Productions, has bought the rights to film adaptations of his books. At the festival, the writer will mostly share his experiences of rewriting myth in literature.
Kala is best-known for her bestselling novel Almost Single and her scriptwriting in the Bollywood films Anjaana Anjaani and Kahaani. As a child, Kala had spent five years in Nepal when her father had been working with the Indian embassy. She will be in conversation with former Miss Nepal and actress Jharana Bajracharya during the festival, to talk about Almost Single.
Indian novelist and poet Gangopadhyay has written over 200 books in his career of almost six decades and won many awards. The Nikhilesh and Neera series of poems comprise his most popular works till date. Gangopadhyay will be discussing writing with Kurchi Dasgupta at the festival, as well as talking about the Beat Generation with Abhi Subedi.
The writer is a columinist at the Kathmandu Post.
The Kathmandu Post, 8 September 2012