Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai International Litfest 2021 was a grand virtual festival that showcased 145 speakers, in 9 languages, from 17 countries and 4 continents, and had a viewership of almost eight million.
Inspirational author Anita Desai received the Lifetime Achievement Award and legendary poet Adil Jussawalla was named Poet Laureate.
Our prestigious Literary Awards went to new comers Rijuta Das and Kavitha Iyer, and felicitous writers Irwin Allan Sealy, Ghazala Wahab and Tamal Bandyopadhyay; ranging from tales set in ancient and contemporary India, to the conundrums of farming, banking, and religion in India today.
The Festival as always delivered the indescribable pleasure of new lessons, new intellectual connections, new imaginative discoveries.
We heard from Salman Rushdie that he was planning to write a play on Helen of Troy: perhaps more difficult than the plot was to work out how to physically get the Trojan Horse on to a stage? In an unexpected and exciting literary scoop, Marlon James read from his yet to be published novel. He also said that it’s the colonised who have rescued the English language!! Art historian Vidya Dehijia entranced our imaginations with an image of a beautifully carved ivory girl from India, wondrously preserved and found after thousands of years under the ashes of Vesuvius. The young Gurmeher Kaur gave us a little known history factoid during the Great Debate: Dhirubhai Ambani’s pre-independence student activism. We might have been expecting a call to arms, but the feminist icon Rebecca Solnit lingered over the fragrant symbolism of roses. Ruskin Bond effortlessly bridged the generation gap chatting to a teenager. Steven Pinker told us that rationalism is a moral choice. And Jonathan Drori explained the idiomatic origin of “to be in clover.”
We know that the delicious uncovering of fascinating insights is the hallmark of Tata Literature Live! and that our audiences come to the Litfest in anticipation of the unexpected argument, the unexpected riposte, the unexpected teaching. It’s no surprise then, that we ultimately crossed 7 million views. And why not? As Oscar Wilde said: “to expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect.” On which note, we warmly invite you to the 13th edition of the Festival in November 2022.