Kolkata Literary Meet (KaLaM) - Kolkata's annual date with books and ideas, is back for its fourth edition. The city, known popularly as the cultural capital of India, has come together for a celebration of art, books and wisdom. Needless to say, the panel discussions have transformed into quintessential Bengali addas. KaLaM is a platform to bring together world literature, Indian writing and Bengali literature.
Like last year, all the sessions are being held at the magnificent Victoria Memorial. Eminent authors like Ruskin Bond and Amitav Ghosh are among the over 70 writers who have interacted/will interact with book lovers from January 23-27.
Presence at the Lit Meet
Legendary author of children's books Ruskin Bond inaugurated the festival and spoke about his life and works, while former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's daughter Daman Singh, whose book Strictly Personal traces the journey of the former PM and his wife Gursharan Kaur from the 1930s to 2004, spoke on her tryst with literature.
Other participants at the platform for book-reading sessions, discussions, debates, interactive workshops and cultural performances include American writer Joanna Rakoff (My Salinger Year) and music composer Shantanu Moitra (who participated in the session, 'On the Wings of Music').
Actress Jaya Bachchan spoke about the writings of her father Taroon Coomar Bhaduri, while film-maker Shoojit Sircar chatted on whether north Kolkata is still the heart and soul of the city. Shabana Azmi read out translations of Tagore's works by her husband, the lyricist-scriptwriter Javed Akhtar. Going beyond books, vocalist Subha Mudgal enchanted the audience with a solo musical performance.
Tata Steel has signed up as the title sponsor for KLM for an initial period of five years. Peeyush Gupta, company vice-president, said people have lost the habit of listening in person, living as they do in a digital age, and they aim to revive the feeling.
Budding writers who were much in demand in the span of these five days are Shereen El Feki, for her first book Sex and the Citadel: Intimate Life in a Changing Arab World, for which she has earned herself nominations for the Guardian First Book Award and The Orwell Prize work, and Joanna Rakoff, perhaps best known for her memoir My Salinger Year.
Mira Jacob has been compared to Jhumpa Lahiri because of the similarity in their subject matters - Indian families living in the USA - but has been noted for her original style. Aatish Taseer, journalist and writer, has been called 'the most distinctive voice of his generation.' Aliette Armel writes novels, essays, and criticism and is the biographer of the renowned French writer, Marguerite Duras.
Some of the names present at KaLam 2015 (Facebook)
Renu Balakrishnan came with her debut novel, Four Aleys, about the lives of four Syrian Christian women, all named Aley. Zia Haider Rahman's debut novel, In the Light of What We Know, was published in 2014. Bani Basu is a pre-eminent novelist writing in Bengali, well-known for Maitreya Jatak, or The Birth of the Maitreya. Jerzy Jarniewicz is a professor of English, scholar, translator, and poet and has translated over twenty books. Sandip Roy is a widely published commentator, a journalist, a radio host as well as an editor at FirstPost.com.
Always known to be the thinker’s paradise, Kolkata now boasts of the perfect platform for readers to meet and interact with authors, not just from India but abroad too. With KaLaM, the city has attained a maturity in the literary scene.
Find ‘KaLam’ on social media
All live updates on KaLaM can be found on its official Twitter and Facebook profiles.
Find the complete schedule of the Lit Fest here: www.kolkatalitmeet.in