CHENNAI: There’s still a couple of days to go for the Hay Festival to kick off at the scenic Kanakakunnu Palace in Thiruvananthapuram, but the anticipation of the literary extravaganza that it promises to be was evident recently at the British Deputy High Commission. The buzz doing the rounds among the who’s who of the city’s literary circuit was difficult to miss. “When we decided to have the Hay Festival last year, for the first time in India, we were really afraid,” reveals the festival’s executive producer Lyndy Cooke, “We didn’t know if all these great authors and poets would be reading to empty tents!” The response surprised not just her, but also the rest of the country, and pleasantly at that. So much so that the participation and support for this year’s fest have come pouring in.
The fest was inaugurated at the British Deputy High Commission by Mike Nithavrianakis, Deputy High Commissioner, followed by a reading of an excerpt from Charu Nivedita’s upcoming book Exile.
This year’s edition is all set to unfurl over 45 sessions with authors and poets, for three days beginning November 17. As always, with a slew of international writers, there will be a healthy mix of regional thinkers and writers, as well. “We have people coming in from as far as Spain and Iceland to take part,” she adds excitedly.
And of course, there will be Welsh authors participating, bringing their greetings from the Welsh town of Hay-on-Wye, from whence cometh the name of the festival. While next year is slated to be the 25th anniversary of the festival, it is now being celebrated in several countries worldwide.
While the high point of last year’s festival was a surprise entry by cult British musician Sting, this year the music quotient has been toned down ever-so-slightly. Instead, there will be three documentary screenings — Marathon Boy, I for India and Shot in Bombay, followed by discussions. Also, there will be a poetry gala climax to celebrate world cultures with K Satchidanandan and Arundhati Subramaniam.
Entry is free, if you’re up to making the scenic trip to God’s Own Country!