When literature took centre stage – The Hindu

When C.V. Balakrishnan was invited to the Kerala Literature Festival last year, he was a bit sceptical. He was not sure about the venue (the beach) or the time (afternoon).

The author of Ayussinte Pusthakam was convinced that not many people would brave the sun to listen to writers. Kozhikode proved him wrong. And it was one of those occasions when you are happy to be proved wrong.

If the crowd was big last year, it was bigger this year.

“We were expecting a great response from Kozhikode for the festival, but we still were surprised by the crowds on each day of the festival; there were nearly two lakh of them,” Ravi Deecee, secretary, DC Foundation, which organises the festival, told The Hindu on Sunday, shortly after the closing ceremony.

“The festival was larger than last year in terms of the number of writers, too. Some 300 writers came this year, nearly double the number last year. We are extremely pleased with the quality of our speakers; that is something we compare favourably with any other festival.”

It was not just writers who took part, but prominent personalities from other spheres as well, such as filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan, historian M.G.S. Narayanan and painter Bose Krishnamachari.

“We wanted this festival only for literature,” said Mr. Ravi. “We wanted to appeal to people of varying tastes.”

The cost of the festival is more than ₹1 crore. “A part of it will be met by sponsors, but we do not see this as a commercial venture,” he said. “It is not meant as a venue to promote the publications of DC Books. Organising a festival of this magnitude is tough of course, we worked for three months on it.”

Among those impressed by the festival is historian Ramachandra Guha, whose speech was one of the highlights of the festival.

“It is nice to see so many people coming to attend a literary event,” Mr. Guha said. “And it is not a tourist crowd, which you would find in other major literary festivals of the country.”

The festival will be back in Kozhikode next year from February 8 to 11. “We hope to make Kozhikode the permanent venue, and A. Pradeep Kumar, MLA, has promised us help in building the infrastructure,” Mr. Ravi said. “The festival is also going to find a place in Kerala’s tourism calendar; the government is keen on that.”

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