Valley of Words (VoW) — the international literature and arts festival — found its way to Calcutta all the way from Dehradun. The annual festival decided to adopt a phygital presence and conduct the fifth year of festivities across five different cities in India. The two-day event on November 6 and 7 led by the charitable trust Valley of Words Foundation Trust was held at the Bengal Club in association with Indian Chamber of Commerce.
The trust, which was established to promote creative arts, debates, music, book launches, exhibitions and to facilitate conversations around art, has previously conducted four seasons of this festival in Dehradun valley.
The Calcutta edition of the festival was built around the books that are shortlisted for the coveted VoW Book awards along with Calcutta-based authors who are often found leading the Hindi fiction and translations categories. The inauguration ceremony was conducted by the president of Bengal Club Ambarish Dasgupta, co-director and curator of Calcutta edition of VoW Anjum Katyal, festival director Sanjeev Chopra and professor Partha P. Chakrabarti. Sushil Misra of SKM group and Rudra Chatterjee, former president of ICC, were also a part of this ceremony.
Some of the books and their authors who were welcomed into the Calcutta edition of the festival included Every Second Counts! by Manick Maitra, special commissioner of revenue and additional director of NSATI, the government of West Bengal; The Ambassador and the Private Eye, a detective novel by Krishnan Srinivasan; Blaze: A Son’s Trial by Fire by Nidhi and Sushil Poddar; and Jumbos on The Edge by Sanjeev K. Chadha .
The two-day event was packed with back-to-back sessions which proved to be entertaining as well as educational, featuring books from a varied background. ‘Shadows of Time’ was a discussion about the book A Forgotten Ambassador in Cairo, around the life and career of Syud Hossain, while ‘Claiming Space’ was a fascinating conversation on translations led by Ranjita Biswas on her translation from Assamese, The Loneliness of Hira Barua, and Bengali author Anita Agnihotri. Authors of A New Idea of India, Harsh Madhusudhan and Rajeev Mantri discussed their idea of a nation in the session titled ‘Whose Country Is It Anyway?’. Music too formed an important part of the festival with day one of the festivities concluding with a classical music performance by ITC Sangeet Research Academy led by an ensemble of Abir Hossain, Ayan Sengupta, Paramananda Roy and Ashoke Mukherjee. This was followed by a vocal performance by Omkar Dadarkar, Sarwar Hussain, Gourab Chatterjee and Bivash Sanghai.
Most of the sessions of day two highlighted women authors and poets like Karuna Ezara Parikh who launched her new book of poetry called Where Stories Gather. She was also in conversation with debut authors Sakoon Singh and Mahek Jangda, writers of In the Land of Lovers and Sometimes Ivory, Sometimes Sand respectively.
The invigorating two-day festival wrapped up with a session that saw Gautam Bhatia speaking extensively about The Wall and its recent sequel The Horizon.