A new way with words

Modern Book Depot, Agra’s oldest bookstore, does steady but unremarkable business. The only time it saw a spike in sales in its over 60-year-old existence was in February this year when the city hosted the first edition of the Taj Literary Festival (TLF). Now with Agra abuzz with preparations for its second edition, owner Bhushan Kumar, who is putting up a stall at the venue, has decided to ramp up stocks of authors who will be speaking at the three-day event.

Like so many retail and FMCG brands, literary jamborees are now moving to tier 2 cities to fan pustak passion among readers in mofussil India.

Just last month, the scenic Sukhna lake in Chandigarh was the backdrop for heated literary discussions. For two days around 30 authors, including Upamanyu Chatterjee, Navtej Singh Sarna and Bhaskar Ghose, discussed topics ranging from ‘context and contours of writing’ to ‘exotica is the new erotica’ even as tourists went about boating in the lake and the resident geese waddled along the bank. “We got close to 1,000 visitors,” says C J Singh, one of the organizers. Writer Jai Arjun Singh says there’s something charming about attending lit fests in smaller towns. “They offer a fresh perspective on relationships between authors and their readers. School kids there get all wideeyed meeting authors who wouldn’t get a second glance at the bigger festivals,” says Singh, who was invited to the Chandigarh event.

Full report here Times of India 


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