Lit for Life

Literature is for life: Update on The Hindu Lit For Life & The Hindu Prize 2019

Full house At one of the sessions in 2018  

“To be a writer, start reading first,” said Pakistani author Mohammed Hanif in 2011. That year, the bookstore at Lit For Life (LFL), The Hindu’s annual literature festival, was just a table. By 2019, the store had grown exponentially. That year LFL drew around 40,000 visitors for 88 sessions across three days.

Unfortunately the 10th edition of the festival in January 2020 had to be cancelled due to a challenging environment.

Literature is for life: Update on The Hindu Lit For Life & The Hindu Prize 2019

The Hindu Prize 2019 was scheduled to be announced on March 28 at an award ceremony in Chennai. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been decided to cancel the event. Naturally, this is disappointing but social distancing is the need of the hour. It will now be announced in the pages of The Hindu on March 25.

The Hindu Prize 2019 Shortlist
  • Non Fiction
  • Polio: The Odyssey of Eradication by Thomas Abraham
  • The Transformative Constitution: A Radical Biography in Nine Acts by Gautam Bhatia
  • India, Empire, and First World War Culture by Santanu Das
  • Early Indians: The Story of Our Ancestors and Where We Came From by Tony Joseph
  • The Anatomy of Hate by Revati Laul
  • Fiction
  • Latitudes of Longing by Shubhangi Swarup
  • The Queen of Jasmine Country by Sharanya Manivannan
  • Heat by Poomani translated by N Kalyan Raman
  • The Assassination of Indira Gandhi by Upamanyu Chatterjee
  • Tell her Everything by Mirza Waheed

The Hindu Prize was instituted in 2010 to honour writers who have spent their lifetime mining the human spirit through their words and idea. Winners were chosen by an independent panel of judges. Children’s writing was not forgotten. The Hindu Young World Goodbooks Awards was introduced in 2016. The Hindu Prize Non Fiction was introduced in 2018.

Authors whose books were shortlisted for the prize include Anjum Hasan, Shovon Chowdhury, Anita Nair, Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar among others

The list of renowned names from varied fields at the festival — Alexander McCall Smith, Lionel Shriver, Ferdinand Mount, Raghu Rai, Omar Abdullah, Romila Thapar, Gulammohammed Sheikh, Thol Thirumavalavan, Kanimozhi Karunanidhi, Amish, Ravinder Singh, Damon Galgut, Sanjana Kapoor, Mahesh Dattani, Bama, Imayam, Mike Brearley, VVS Laxman, Chef Manu Chandra, Chef Thomas Zacharias, Chef Alfred Prasad — bore testimony to the festival’s unique vision and character, which celebrated the spirit of creativity and the strength of the written word. Beginning with a 1000 people in 2011, the festival’s audience grew to 40,000 in 2019: a testament to its success.

Past winners
  • Requiem for Raga Janaki by Neelum Saran Gour (2018)
  • Interrogating my Chandal Life: An Autobiography of a Dalit by Manoranjan Byapari (2018)
  • Temporary People by Deepak Unnikrishnan (2017)
  • When Jinnah Came to our House by Kiran Doshi (2016)

Support to freedom of speech has remained the cornerstone whether it was passing a resolution to support author Perumal Murugan in 2015 or celebrate his return the next year. In 2018, author Taslima Nasrin told the festival audience that “Freedom of speech cannot exist without the freedom to offend.”

The Hindu Lit For Life will be back in January 2021 with a refreshed, bigger and better programme. As Festival Director Dr Nirmala Lakshman once said, “The reason we called it Lit for Life is because we believe literature is for life and literature lights you up.”

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Printable version | Jun 13, 2021 9:07:24 PM |

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