Hay fever
Hay lit fest in Kerala brings Indian writing to the world

Anita Nair

Viewing global cultures through domestic detail of private lives often told by authors, learning to use maths to bend a football like Beckham, listening to climate change authority Nicholas Stern an international literature festival that made its debut in Kerala this month offered all this and more.

The Hay Festival, which began 23 years ago in Wye, UK, has over the years expanded into countries like Spain, Colombia and Kenya, now marked its entry into India in Thiruvananthapuram with a three-day event that started on November 12 .

"We were very excited to celebrate the Hay Festival in India and Kerala became the obvious choice for its high literacy rate and popular tourist destinations. It also created a platform to present Indian writing to an international audience," said Lyndy Cooke, executive director, Hay Festival.

Shashi Tharoor, one of the first Indian writers to be invited to Wye and MP from Thiruvananthapuram, who worked to get the event here, said, "Kerala has a literate audience and offers a spectacular setting with beaches, backwaters and ayurvedic massages. The festival was an opportunity to open the windows of my constituency to the world and offer local readers world class literature". Tharoor, who has authored several novels and short stories apart from essays was on the panel with other writers.

"India produces high-quality literature. At the London Book Fair last year, we hosted 58 Indian writers to showcase Indian literature. The Hay Festival was an opportunity for the outside world to discover Indian writing," said Ruth Gee, regional director, the British Council, which collaborated with Hay .

The invitees for the non-ticketed event included noted personalities such as Vikram Seth, Upamanya Chatterjee, Anita Nair, Hannah Rothschild, Simon Schama, Sebastian Faulks, Nik Gowing, Gillian Clarke and William Darlymple. The focus on regional writing had Indian poets O N V. Kurup and K Satchidanandan, in conversation with Welsh counterparts Menna Elfyn and Paul Henry. Other local writers featured were Paul Zacharia, Sister Jesme, N.S. Madhavan and Charu Nivedita. PTI