Lit fests are mushrooming. Do they encourage the habit of reading or merely preach to the converted?
Boom spoke to a few eminent writers and poets at the fifth Goa Arts And Literature Festival and found out what they get out of these plethora of festivals.
Mahesh Rao, prize-winning author of the book “The Smoke is Rising”, admitted that these festivals have become an exclusive club of the same writers. “You get a sense that you are almost talking to each other. You are not sure if you are reaching a wider audience. It feels like you are preaching to the converted,” he said.
Ranjit Hoskote, poet and cultural theorist, disagreed and expressed the importance of these festivals, especially in today’s times. “More and more people are coming to the act of reading. At literature festivals, a direct encounter between the reader and writer becomes possible. So, the more literray festivals, the merrier,” he said.
Writer Hindol Sengupta enquired about the relation between such Lit Fests and readership. “Literary fiction is a genre that is constantly celebrated at festivals. If festivals are so successful, how is that lesser people are reading this genre?” he provoked.
Arundhathi Subramaniam said she liked coming to the Goa Arts And Literary Festival as she doesn’t sense a climate of acquisitiveness. “Often at literary festivals, you feel everyone is looking at each other to see what can be extracted from them,” she elaborated. She hoped that festivals retain this kind of ethos which she found endearing.
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