The third edition of the Ooty Literary Festival brings together writing from across all genres
From history and environmental writing to poetry, the Ooty Lit Fest hopes to harness the power of the written word
Surrounded by rare titles on the Nilgiris and the hill tribes, the third edition of the Ooty Literary festival, hosted at the 162-year-old Nilgiri Library, will deal with the topics of childrens’ writing, poetry and translations. Evolving since its first edition, where uncertainty about the panel of speakers loomed large, the festival has hosted the likes of Sir William Mark Tully and MT Vasudevan Nair and hopes to continue its legacy with sessions with British writer and historian Patrick French and Indian writer Shanta Gokhale at this edition. Offering insights into the festival, Greaves Henriksen, the convener, tells us about the highlights at this two-day event.
What are the major talking points at this edition of the Ooty Literary Festival?
Every session offers a varied mix of topics. The draw for some might be the conversation between Patrick French and Jerry Pinto. For those interested in poetry, the session with poets Ranjit Hoskote, Mustansir Dalvi and Srividya Sivakumar will be a must. The session with authors Paro Anand, Prerna Singh and Janaki Sabesh childrens’ literature enthusiasts.
You have a varied choice of speakers at this edition, with an inclination towards non-fiction writing (focusing on history, environment and culture). How were the writers and sessions curated?
We try to keep a healthy balance between fiction, non-fiction, writing for children, poetry and publishing. The choice of speakers outside the Nilgiris are curated by award-winning author, poet, children’s writer and translator Jerry Pinto who is the advisor of The Ooty Literary Festival. While for other writers from the region, the OLF committee schedules the sessions.
Do you think things are changing for emerging writers who are looking at creating content in different formats and regional languages, given the rise of new literary festivals?
With multiple literary festivals and multiple publishers, it seems to be a good time to be a writer in any language and in any genre. Over the last two editions, we have discovered to our delight that many writers have made the Nilgiris their home. So, at every Ooty Literary festival, about half the writers invited are in some way associated with the Nilgiris. This practice also gives the people of the Nilgiris a sense of ownership of the fest.
In a digital age when we seem to be losing touch with writing, do you think literary festivals will rekindle the love of reading and writing among youngsters?
There is a younger generation of writers and more books being written will hopefully mean more readers. Writing seems to be the flavour of the decade. Whether it will result in a saturation of mediocre books, only time will tell. But with the idealistic hope that reading will never go out of fashion, we carry on.
September 14 and 15. At The Nilgiri Library.