The Bookwallah: India’s first roving writer’s festival
By neeraj On 16 Nov, 2012 At 06:44 PM | Categorized As Fests and Celebrations, India | With 0 Comments
‘The Bookwallah’, the first roving writers’ festival in India, is in its second last leg now, and the bandwagon has now reached Chennai. it’s a fascinating initiative in which five talented authors were chosen from Australia and India to travel the length and breadth of India by train, stopping at select destinations enroute, in search of stories, conversations and connections. A portable library will be their added partner-in-crime during the journey.

First Rover's writer festival in India

The Bookwallah writers, during the train journey from Mumbai to Goa

“As they travel across a wide swath of India, these five talented writers will engage with different audiences, from students to writers, learning about each other and the audiences they interact with” said Mr Peter Varghese, Australian High Commissioner to India. “Literature builds strong cross cultural understanding between people from different backgrounds,” he added.

The tour began at the Literature Live! Mumbai LitFest, stopped over in Goa at the Literati bookshop and then proceeded to the Bangalore Literature Festival. Now, the troop is in Chennai and the journey will come to an end at Pondicherry, 150 kms away.

The Australian travellers include Kirsty Murray, who’s penned nine novels including The Lilliputians, a nail-biting true story set in India and Australia in 1910. Writer, journalist and media personality Benjamin Law is the other Australian on this tour.

Accompanying them, from the Indian fraternity are poet Sudeep Sen, whom BBC Radio recently recognized as ‘one of the finest younger English-language poets in the international literary scene’; novelist Chandrahas Choudhury, whose novel Arzee the Dwarf was shortlisted for the Commonwealth First Book Award; and Annie Zaidi, author of Known Turf who was short-listed for the Vodafone Crossword book awards in 2011.

Designers Soumitri Varadarajan and Georgia Hutchinson have created a number of custom-made suitcases that open up and transform into bookcases. Part library, part art installation, visitors have lapped it up, turning up in grand numbers to browse, sit and read,and participate in these unique events.

At each pit-stop, books from the library are being donated to universities and other local libraries.

The writers enjoying a session in Goa



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