Three-day extravaganza begins on October 7th.
NEW YORK: US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara, who is touted as a potential future candidate for the office of Governor, and prominent Indian author and politician Shashi Tharoor will be the star personalities at the three-day third annual IAAC Literary Festival, to be held at the New York University, in Manhattan, from October 7-9.
The opening night of the festival, organized by Aroon Shivdasani, the founder of the Indo-American Arts Council (IAAC), will see Tharoor and Somini Sengupta of The New York Times, in conversation with author Suketu Mehta.
The trio will discuss ‘Looking at Contemporary India’, with a focus on where it is in relation to where it should be? What are the reasons for its drive it in that particular direction? Are the people and the government in sync? Mehta will also be seen in discussion the next day with India’s foremost TV journalist Barkha Dutt.
The next two days, on Saturday and Sunday, are packed with talks and panel discussions, kicking off with Sumathy Ramaswamy, author and Professor of History at Duke University, in conversation with Vidya Dehejia, the Barbara Stoler Miller Professor of Indian and South Asian Art, Columbia University. They will discuss a new monograph on India’s most famous Modernist, Maqbool Fida Husain. Titled ‘Husain’s Raj: Visions of Empire and Nation’, the book focuses on the artist’s playful pictorial vignettes of the British Empire in India, and argues that Husain shows us how it is possible, even necessary, to laugh while looking back at a painful and traumatic past.
Among others, there is a discussion on ‘Anglo-Indian Literature’ which will see Reginald Shires in conversation with Blair Williams. The question they will discuss is, “How will posterity remember the Anglo-Indian community?” Historically the Anglo-Indian community was defined by either English or Indian writers, and most of the descriptions were not complimentary – in fact many created (or reinforced) negative stereotypes of Anglo-Indian men and women.
The day will also see author Nilima Dalmia Adhar in conversation with Manreet Sodhi Someshwar, to discuss the former’s new book ‘The Secret Diary of Kasturba Gandhi.’
Among others, there will also be a session on ‘Blueprints for Art and Social Change: A firsthand view of the power of arts for awareness, advocacy and justice in the Indian context’, which will see Gopika Jadeja, Priyanka Das Gupta, Sumathi Ramaswamy, Amana Fontanello-Khan in conversation with Mick Minard. They will discuss ‘How is art breaking out of the gilded gallery to confront real issues on ground and inspire social change? What are the new blueprints for the 21st-century artist-activist dabbling in multiple genres including arts, writing, ecology, inclusion and politics?’
Also on the agenda is author Marino Budhos talking of her new novel ‘Watched’, in a conversation with Ram Sivasankaran and Rohit Gaur. In another talk, New York-based Aseem Chhabra will discuss his recently released book on actor Shashi Kapoor – ‘Shashi Kapoor: The Householder’.
A highlight of the concluding day of the festival, on Sunday, would be Shashi Tharoor in conversation with his son and newly-minted author Kanishk Kapoor on the latter’s new book, ‘Swimmer Among the Stars.’ Also, Ken Ono will be seen in conversation with Manjul Bhargava, the Fields Medal mathematician, in a discussion about his life and work based on prodigy Srinivas Ramanujan.
A session on poetry will see Phinder Dulai, Sudeep Sen, Vinita Agarwal, Claus Ankerson, Neal Hall and H. Masud Taj in conversation with Meena Alexander. And a panel on fiction will have Radha Vatsal, Falguni Kothari, Dhirendra Tiwari, Tamraparni Dasu in conversation with Parul Kapur Hinzen.
Also seen in talks would be India’s former Permanent Ambassador to the UN, Ambassador Hardip Singh Puri, and Ambassador Moni Chadha, in conversation with Barkha Dutt.
Dutt would also be seen and heard in a separate panel on “Politics and Turmoil’, featuring also Salil Tripathi and Kanchan Chandra in conversation with the Washington, DC-based Chidanand Rajghatta of The Times of India.
Preet Bharara will deliver the closing night speech at the Kimmel Center, talking on the issue of ‘Is corruption endemic to politics?’ A subject which will truly be a treat given that soon after Bharara finishes, the second presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump would commence.