The first edition, set to begin later this month at the International Zone of Auroville, will focus on the life and works of Sri Aurobindo
The written word has always had an influence on Auroville. Named after philosopher Sri Aurobindo who was also a poet, playwright, and journalist, it is only natural that the experimental township in Puducherry now hosts its own literature festival. Auroville Literature Festival, according to Anu Majumdar, one of its coordinators, has been conceived to function on the lines of other popular literature festivals across India. “But it will also have something special,” she explains, adding: “We hope that it will grow to be a yearly affair.”
“We have 17 Indian and seven international authors on board,” says Anu, adding that there are sessions on works in translation from Tamil and Malayalam. “At the inauguration, writer Namita Gokhale will talk about writing and literary festivals in general,” says Anu. The author will be in conversation with Sanjeev Chopra, who is the festival director of Valley of Words International Literature and Art Festival, Dehradun.
“Some authors have come forward to participate online; these sessions will run alongside the physical sessions,” she points out. “The festival is spread across three venues: Bharat Nivas, Savitri Bhavan, and Unity Pavilion.”
Some of the other highlights include a discussion by literary agent Kanishka Gupta on how to get one’s book published; in Myth, Magic and Moustache: The Reach of a Story, popular Malayalam writer S Hareesh will be in conversation with Tamil poet R Meenakshi. Speakers include Puducherry-based Tamil scholar and musicologist Arimalam Padmanabhan, British poet and translator George Szirtes, Melbourne-based writer Jennifer Down, South African author Karen Jennings, writer and journalist Nandini Sengupta, Trinidad-born author and linguist Peggy Mohan, scientist and writer Jayanti Ravi, author Shreya Sen-Handley, and poet and translator Ranjit Hoskote, among others.
“There will be cultural performances in the evenings on all days of the festival, which includes a dance theatre performance by Surya Performance Lab,” says Anu, “We will also have food stalls serving specialties from the bakeries and restaurants Auroville is known for, apart from craft stores featuring works by artisans from the region.”
Auroville Literature Festival is supported by the Auroville Foundation and the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. It is on from August 25 to 27 at the International Zone of Auroville. Entry is free, but prior registration is required. For details, call 8861186277 or write to email@example.com.