Mumbai: The sixth edition of the ‘Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai LitFest’ will be held in the city from October 29 – November 1, with 120 celebrated authors and thinkers from over 14 countries participating.
The festival will be held simultaneously at the National Centre for the Performing Arts, Nariman Point and Prithvi Theatre, Juhu.
Some of the speakers include Egyptian-American Mona Eltahawy, who is making headlines for her book “Headscarves and Hymens”, Germaine Greer, one of the pioneers of the international feminist movement, Kiran Nagarkar, Indian novelist, Vikram Seth and Hussain Zaidi, investigative journalist and author of Dongri to Dubai.
Seven awards would also be presented during the fest, organised by the Tata Group, to celebrate remarkable works in fiction, non-fiction, business writing, poetry, a lifetime achievement award along with a book of the year award for fiction and non-fiction.
“We’re thrilled to announce a fantastic line-up for this edition. Indian writers will be sharing the stage with authors from over 14 countries. This year’s edition also brings a riveting line-up of international performances from across the globe,” said director and founder of the festival Anil Dharker in a statement.
As a part of the four-day fest, audience can expect discussions, debates and talks with actor and activist Lisa Ray, Kalki Koechlin, author Stephen Kelman, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh on discussions like “What is authentically India?” among others.
There would also be performances of dance and poetry, plays like the “Comedy of Horrors”, directed by Vivaan Shah, son of popular stage and film actor Naseeruddin Shah, among others.
Hardly has any novel been awaited with as much curiosity and anticipation in recent times as Vikram Seth’s sequel to the monumental “A Suitable Boy” (1993). Five years on, since he was first expected to deliver the manuscript, the novel is still to see the light of the day. But what seems like a saga of missed deadlines can very well — far from our eyes — be a masterpiece in the making.
“The more I talk of her, the more shy she becomes,” Seth had told this correspondent in 2015 about “A Suitable Girl”, the novel-in-waiting.
Seth, as his literary agent David Godwin puts it, has been known to take his time with his books. The prolonged delay, however, was not acceptable to Hamish Hamilton (an imprint of Penguin Random House) and he was asked to return an advance payment of $1.7 million when the deal was called off. Weidenfeld and Nicolson, an imprint of the British publisher Orion, then acquired the novel — and it was scheduled to release in 2016.
But a flying bird — a friend and confidant of the writer — says that he is now giving the “final touch” to the novel and that one can expect “the big announcement” soon.
Seth released a collection of poems titled “Summer Requiem” in the meanwhile. In the collection, he traces the immutable shiftings of the seasons, the relentless rhythms of a great world that both “gifts and harms”. Composed as they were while he was (which he still is) writing the sequel, several poems in the offering open doors to his mind, or perhaps they may be preludes to the larger narrative that he is weaving.
“I have so carefully mapped/the corners of my mind/that I am forever waking/in a lost country,” he writes in the opening poem. Interestingly, Seth’s companion to “A Suitable Boy” will be a jump sequel — the characters have travelled from the 1950s and it will be very much a novel set in somewhat the present times.
In its title poem, he mourns that the “liberated generation lives a restrained youth,” and then adds: “I must forsake attachment”. On another occasion in the book, readers find him lamenting over “the peaceful love” that the narrator has “never found”. In another short poem “Late Light” he writes: “Outside the great world’s gifts and harms/ There must be somewhere I can go/To rest within a lover’s arm/At ease with the impending snow”.
Reportedly, Seth suffered from writer’s block after his break-up with French violinist Phillippe Honor but that was a long time ago and was reflected in “An Equal Music”. He has moved on or has he not?
Nonetheless, it has been about five years since “A Suitable Girl” was first expected to hit the stands but the wait is surely worth it. As writer-politician Shashi Tharoor says about his good friend’s technique — that “Vikram Seth draws an entire roadmap of his novel, planning every minute element in great detail” — the sequel, thanks to all the anticipation and the pressure on the writer, may actually be a masterpiece in the making, as sublime as its counterpart and yet set in the time of its readers.
Vikram Seth is a recipient of the Padma Shri, Sahitya Akademi Award, and among several other prestigious honours, the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman. He has been widely translated and is among leading novelists on the global stage. He has published three novels — “The Golden Gate” (1986), “A Suitable Boy” (1993) and “An Equal Music” (1999) — along with several collections of poetry such as “Mappings” and “All You Who Sleep Tonight”.