Sashi Tharoor will present The Hindu Best Fiction Prize 2011 today

The Hindu's first literary festival, Lit for Life 2011, got off to a rich and stimulating start in Chennai on Saturday, the first day of a two-day event that will culminate in the presentation of The Hindu Best Fiction Prize 2011.

At the inaugural function, Leela Samson, director, Kalakshetra Foundation said, it was appropriate that the festival was poised just ahead of Chennai's annual season of dance and music. The challenge today, she added, was to transfer and translate authors and books of merit into various languages and make them available at affordable prices.

Firdose Vandrewala, CMD, HIRCO, the presenting sponsor of the event, said the company was proud to be associated with The Hindu and the literary festival.

David Davidar, novelist and publisher, recalled his personal association with the newspaper. “The Hindu was an essential part of growing up,” he said, as several members in the audience vigorously nodded their agreement. “I left home at 19, but The Hindu stayed with me.” He also spoke of his column Book Talk that ran for nearly a decade in The Hindu's Literary Review that was started 20 years ago. He expressed his belief that over the years, the literary festival would grow as iconic as the paper itself.

Nirmala Lakshman, Director of Kasturi and Sons, publishers of The Hindu, said the festival was being organised in celebration of 20 years of The Hindu's Literary Review. In the two decades the Literary Review has not just promoted good writing, but also sought to engage with larger questions about the nature of literature and what writing means as a private act as well as a public project, she said. The supplement has debated issues of freedom, censorship, the boundaries of creativity, and various genres of writing, publishing, enmeshing all of this with the cultural, political and social issues of the day.

“We believe that as a newspaper we are in a unique position to bring writers and their work to a larger readership. The purpose of a literary festival is to entertain, inform, challenge, and get people to think about the worlds we inhabit and the mind spaces we occupy,” she said.

“At a time when mass media tends to mindlessly dominate with hollow content, we believe that with an event like this we can set a benchmark and provide an inclusive environment that will bring ideas, words, inspiration and creativity to a larger audience,” she added, outlining the ambitious scope of the festival.

The first leg of Lit for Life 2011 was held on September 25 in Delhi and received an excellent response, and wide participation. The shortlist for The Hindu Best Fiction Prize was announced at this event.

On Sunday evening, Sashi Tharoor, MP, will present The Hindu Best Fiction Prize 2011. The book/writer has been chosen by an independent panel of judges comprising Mridula Garg, K. Satchidanandan, Brinda Bose, Pavan Verma, and Tabish Khair.

The associate sponsors for the event are: Shriram City, Rado; Session sponsors: Club Mahindra, Penguin, Harper Collins, Om Books, and Spotlight. Travel support is being provided by Le Passage to India, venue support by Hyatt Regency and the gift sponsor is Seshasayee Paper and Boards Ltd. The creative consultant for the festival is Siyahi.

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