April 03, 2020
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What Litfests are really about and Speaking Tiger's brilliant new series

Illustration by Saahil

Rings of Roses

At the book reading of Sudeep Sen’s latest, Erotext, writer Devapriya Roy asked him what happens in these literary festivals (of which, at last count, there were 68 all over the country last year, he said), where he is a regular. “Oh, didn’t you know? At the start of the festival, all the writers are asked to put their wedding rings in a box which is then locked away for a week. After this, it is only literature that comes between all the participants for the duration of the festival,” replied Sen.

Sip of Absinthe

Writers are usually mild-mannered and self-effacing. But with many, wit and vitriol runs just a few layers below this quiet demeanour they affect. At a recent book launch, a couple of writers were standing around a table, sipping drinks. Soon a lady joined them, all flustered and excited. “Can you believe it, I got a signed copy of the book. I am going to grab a drink. Will you please watch the book for me?” she asked, placing the tome on the table. “Don’t worry, it’s perfectly safe. Nobody will touch it,” quipped one of the writers wryly.

Other Wounds

Speaking Tiger has started a new series, International Fiction. The idea is to bring interesting books, either in English or in translation, which don’t make it to bestseller lists or the awards circuit. These will be lesser known gems, like the first one of the series, celebrated Indonesian writer Eka Kurniawan’s Beauty is a Wound. South African writer Imraan Coovadia’s new novel, Tales of the Metric System, will be next.

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