South Asian literature blitz in Britain

Last Updated: Tue, Oct 12, 2010 14:10 hrs

New Delhi, Oct 12 (IANS) The literary fine print from South Asia represented by the likes of Fatima Bhutto, Michael Wood, Amit Chaudhuri, Mohammed Hanif, Meghnad Desai and several others is set to take Britain by storm in a festival Oct 16-30.

The 15-day celebration of South Asian writing and arts - DSC South Asian Literature Festival - will see a galaxy of authors from the sub-continent reach out to the Asian and British communities across the country to celebrate the diverse culture and literature of South Asia.

The festival, hosted by the DSC Limited, will open at the prestigious Shakespeare's Globe at the London Bankside and move to an eclectic mix of venues across Britain with 30 events.

The venues will be spread across British Library, British Musuem, Rich Mix in Bethnal Green, Free Word Centre in Farrington and 'Q Books' in Soho.

Related events are scheduled in Brighton, Oxford, Leicester and Sheffield, Surina Narula of the DSC Group said.

The festival will announce the shortlist for the $50,000 prize for literature from a longlist of 16 titles.

The highlights of the festival are literary sessions like 'India and Pakistan: Literary Worlds Apart?', 'Twin Dynasties', 'From Fatwa to Jihad', 'Cricket, Commonwealth and Country', 'Power of Pen: Resolution for Kashmir' and 'Journey to South Asia'.

'The idea for the festival came from children's book writer Bhavit Mehta and Jon Slack, former chair of the Society of Young Publishers'. They came to me nearly nine months ago with the idea and we decided to help them. The Jaipur Literature Festival team comprising William Dalrymple, I, Namita Gokhale and Sanjoy Roy provided them logistical support,' Narula told IANS in the capital.

According to Narula: 'The festival is more of an outreach project that will go to places like Birmingham and Lester to involve students in South Asian literary movements.'

A familiar face in the literary fraternity, Narula has been the adviser to the Jaipur Literature Festival.

She is also the founding member of the Consortium for Street Children, an international umbrella of 47 NGOs and a board of director at the Plan International-UK - one of the biggest international child development and sponsorship agencies.

'The festival is modelled on the Jaipur Literature Festival in which the common man in Britain will have access to the best of South Asian literature. I have removed it from elite venues to the numerous public spaces and libraries that Britain has to offer. I want to involve small groups of people. Our company believes that promoting literature helps builds the character of the society,' Narula said.

Festival co-directors Jon Slack and Bhavit Mehta said the 'thriving literary and publishing scene in South Asia' was an impetus to bring a literary festival devoted to South Asian writing to Britain.