Come November, over 130 celebrated writers and thinkers from some 30 countries will converge at Mumbai’s biggest international literary festival, Tata Literature Live!

The illustrious first line-up for the seventh edition of the festival includes names like Amitav Ghosh, the Indian novelist who has examined the perils of ignoring climate change in his new book, The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable; Nicholas Shakespeare, literary critic and descendant of William Shakespeare; John Gray, political philosopher and author of False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capitalism; Ramachandra Guha, Indian historian and Padma Bhushan recipient; and Simon Armitage, the sardonically witty British poet, famous for the dramatisation of the Greek epic, The Odyssey.

“A literary festival in what is probably the world’s most vibrant city is sure to be hugely exciting. I very much look forward to it. I’ve had some memorable conversations in Mumbai. I’m looking forward to more,” said Amitav Ghosh about the festival which is set to sweep the city of Mumbai from 17-20 November.

Frank Moorhouse.

Held simultaneously across two iconic cultural venues — the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA), Nariman Point and Prithvi Theatre, Juhu — the four-day festival will also feature Frank Moorhouse, Ma Thida, Sanjaya Baru, P. Chidambaram, Jairam Ramesh, Girish Karnad, Anuvab Pal, Keki N. Daruwalla, Kiran Nagarkar and Jayant Narlikar, among others. Legendary lyricist and poet Gulzar, and the suave Indian film director and producer, Karan Johar, will lend the festival a flavour of Bollywood.

Anil Dharker, founder and festival director,  says, “‘Who are the stars of the festival this year?’ is a question I am asked everywhere I go. What can I say? For us, all the writers coming here are stars in their own right. The best known writer in Argentina or Germany or Brazil may not be a household name in India, but nevertheless, they will have a huge international reputation. Simon Armitage, the formidable British poet who holds the prestigious chair of Professor of Poetry at Oxford University, will also be here. But is he a household name? So I take the safe route and mention names everyone in India have heard of: Amitav Ghosh and Gulzar, Shekhar Gupta and Vir Sanghvi, Mahroof Raza and P. Chidambaram.
All our participants will ensure that the festival lives up to its lively image as a platform where literature is truly celebrated through freedom of speech and expression, and where there is never a dull moment. We are thrilled to bring to the audiences of Mumbai and the country, the first glimpse of this annual literature fiesta. More authors will be announced at the end of this month with the full programme revealed in November.”

Nicholas Shakespeare.

Workshops this year, curated for both adults and children, will feature international writers and poets undertaking sessions on fiction, theatre and poetry. For adults, these include “Writing Biographies” by John Zubrzycki, “Writing Horror Fiction” by Darryl Jones, “Poetry from Brazil” by Angelica Freitas, “Writing Drama for Radio” by Sue Roberts, “Lens to Lens”, a session on photojournalism by Sandor Jaszberenyi, and “Machine Plays”, the art of performing plays without rehearsals by Nassim Soleimanpour, among others. For children, the sessions feature “Worlds within Words”, a multi-lingual poetry workshop by Adrian Grima, Yolanda Castano and Sampurna Chattarji;How to Draw Everything”, a workshop on illustration of stories by Gillian Johnson andStory’xpress”, a storytelling session for lesser privileged children.

Plays, performance poetry, and storytelling with music would also be an integral part of the festival. There will be a theatrical experiment “White Rabbit Red Rabbit” by the Iranian playwright, Nassim Soleimanpour, wherein actors and the audience discover the script together. The Hindi edition of this play will also premiere at the festival.

Ma Thida.

Since its inception, Tata Literature Live! has instituted awards to honour achievements by Indian writers, both emerging and accomplished. Seven awards will be presented to celebrate and recognise outstanding works — the Tata Literature Live! First Book Awards, and the Tata Literature Live! Book of the Year Awards in the Fiction and Non-Fiction categories; the Tata Literature Live! Business Book Award, Tata Literature Live! Poet Laureate Award and Tata Literature Live! Lifetime Achievement Award.

Taking this initiative forward, the festival this year has introduced three new awards — the Big Little Book Awards for author and illustrator in the Literature-for-children category, and the Sultan Padamsee Award for Playwriting.