The Telegraph
Sunday , January 5 , 2014

Lit Meet gets a ‘prologue’

If you tend to judge a book by its prologue, you’ll love Kolkata Literary Meet 2014! In its third year, the city’s annual celebration of books, authors and the arts will open with a “prologue” session on January 23, two days before the five-day Lit Meet begins. And speaking at the “prologue” session will be a lady who has time and again put Calcutta on the global literary map — Jhumpa Lahiri.

“We will hold a special session at Victoria Memorial on January 23 where Jhumpa Lahiri will speak on the role of Calcutta in her writing. We’re having this session ahead of the actual Lit Meet dates (January 25 to 30) because Jhumpa has to be back in Italy by January 27 for her children’s school,” explained Malavika Banerjee, the director of the Kolkata Literary Meet (KLM).

The Pulitzer Prize-winning writer whose latest novel, The Lowland, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2013, will be in conversation with Rudrangshu Mukherjee of The Telegraph.

On January 25, the Meet will be inaugurated by American feminist Gloria Steinem and Bengali poet Shankha Ghosh, followed by a nukkad natak (street play) on women’s rights by students of La Martiniere for Boys. The same afternoon, Steinem will be in conversation with anti-trafficking activist and Calcutta girl Ruchira Gupta in a session titled “As if women matter”.

Speaking of things that matter, Vikram Seth will speak at a session titled “Love outlawed”, which will touch upon matters of creativity, intolerance, Section 377 and why love must not bow down. In another session, the very “suitable” author will look at the eastern influences in his writing.

Also looking at his literary career will be Amit Chaudhuri, tracing his journey from his 1991 debut novel, A Strange and Sublime Address, to a non-fiction book on Calcutta a couple of years back and a collection of essays, Telling Tales, that will be released shortly.

“It will be interesting to look back. See, when I wrote my first novel, we were the post-Rushdie generation and very few Indian authors wrote about the stuff that I wrote about, about things set in the here and the now. Authors then mostly wrote about bigger, grander things with sweeping themes…. It’ll also be interesting to look back because I feel I have more clarity in my mind and in my writing now,” said Chaudhuri, who divides his time between Calcutta and the UK, where he teaches creative writing at the University of East Anglia.

Author Kunal Basu, who too teaches in the UK, though his business is business management (at Oxford University), will speak on the death of bilingualism in Bengal.

There will also be a host of sessions on Bengali writing, featuring authors Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay, Syed Shamsul Huq (of Bangladesh), Nabaneeta Dev Sen, Sangita Bandopadhyay, Srijato, Anita Agnihotri, Chandril Bhattacharya and others, while a special session will see the launch of the translation of Soumitra Chatterjee’s book on Satyajit Ray — The Master and I — followed by a conversation between Sharmila Tagore and Soumitra.

The Bengali detective will also prowl the Lit Meet, with a session titled “Goendagiri” that will have, among others, film-makers Dibakar Banerjee, who’s making Bomkesh in Hindi with Sushant Singh Rajput, and Srijit Mukherji, who is all set to make a Kakababu series with Prosenjit, post-Mishawr Rawhoshyo.

The Lit Meet sessions will be held at Victoria Memorial from 1.45pm every day. There will be a number of brunch sessions at various locations across the city, from La Martiniere for Boys and Calcutta Club to Galerie 88 and Jhaal Farezi.

Details and updates are available at and on the Kolkata Literary Meet Facebook page. For passes, write to