15th AKLF 2024 kick starts on a grand note

On the grounds of Allen Park, Park Street, Kolkata, the fifteenth edition of Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival (AKLF) commenced with a beautiful presentation of Brahma Sangeet by the students of Apeejay School. Festival Director Anjum Katyal, Oxford Bookstore’s CEO Swagat Sengupta, Programming Head, Neeta Sreedharan, Authors,  Baisakhi Saha, Ramanjit KaurSwapna Liddle, Alka Pande, Anita Agnihotri, Srijato, Maharghya Chakraborty, Sulagna Mukhopadhyay, Husna Tara Prakash besides others attended the inauguration.

The valued partners for the three-day long literary festival include Kenilworth Hotel, Kolkata,  the hospitality partner; Cha Bar, the refreshment partner; 93.5 Red FM the radio partner; ilEAD and Apeejay School, the institutional partners. Australian High Commission, Alliance Française du Bengale and Tollygunge Club were among some of the valued partners of the 15th Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival. Festival partners also include renowned publishing houses such as Speaking Tiger, Penguin Random House, Hachette, HarperCollins, Niyogi Books, Rupa Publications, Westland Books, Juggernaut, Simon and Schuster, Bloomsbury, Om Books, Zubaan Books.

On the occasion of 15 years of Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival, Priti Paul, Director of Apeejay Surrendra Group, said, “The 15th edition of AKLF is a wonderful celebration of words and ideas in the colourful setting of Allen Park, right on Park Street which has been home to the heritage Oxford Bookstore for over 100 years. The festival fittingly began with a wonderful Brahma Sangeet rendered by a choir of students from Apeejay School, setting the mood for the discussions. It was interesting to see the broad range of themes and subjects covered over the day, from learning to listen to one’s inner voice to Mughal aesthetics, from murder mysteries to gender and identity, from translation, always very important to us, to celebrating 40 years of feminist publishing in India. The literary novel, popular fiction, and music memoirs all got their due, reflecting the infinite variety of a good bookstore. We look forward to two more days packed with stimulating discussions with our leading thinkers and writers.”

Speaking at the occassion, Anjum Katyal, Director, AKLF, said, “The 15th edition of AKLF got off to a great start today, in the colourful ambience of Allen Park, Park Street. We started and ended with music, with an opening choir of children performing a Brahma Sangeet, closing the first day with classical maestros Pt Kumar Bose and Bickram Ghosh talking of the life of a musician. Along the way we revisited Mughal Delhi with Swapna Liddle and Alka Pande, and heard Anuja Chauhan, Simon Rowe and Patrick Lyons discuss the ever-popular detective novel , learned about new translations of the Kashmiri writer HariKrishna Kaul and listened to Upamanyu Chatterjee discuss his brand new novel. Gender and feminist publishing were other interesting subjects focused on today, by Santa Khurai, Niladri Chatterjee, and Anindya Hajra on one hand, and  Urvashi Butalia, pioneer of feminist publishing, on the other. Our children’s festival, OJLF at Oxford Bookstore, and Poetry Café at Alliance Francaise drew large numbers and saw keen  participation.”

The inaugural session was followed by the session named “Abracadabra and the Magic of Life”, where acclaimed actor Ramanjit Kaur, the founder and Director of The Creative Arts, a prestigious Arts Academy in Kolkata, was in conversation with Baishakhi SahaThe following session, ‘In Other Words’, had Anita Agnihotri, translator Maharghya Chakravorty and Bengali poet Srijato sharing their thoughts on the experience of being rendered in translation.

Swapna Liddle and Alka Pande discussed what lives on from the times of Mughal legacy, art and architecture in the session, ‘The Mughals and Us’ with Husna-Tara Prakash. Following this, Tanveer Ajsi in conversation Paromita Chakravarti shared his views on the work done by translators for Kashmiri writer Harikrishna Kaul’s short stories, namely “For Now’ and “It is Night’. This session was called “From Kashmir with Love’.

Mami Suzuki, famed author, Simon RoweAnuja Chauhan of The Fast and Dead fame, and Patrick Lyons, author of Masala and Murder, discussed the latest developments in murder mysteries in literature. They were in conversation with Oindrilla Dutt, and the session was titled, ‘Whodunnit?’ This was followed by ‘Daring to be Different’a session which raised questions of identity and alternate sexualities as read through the books of Santa Khurai’s Yellow Sparrow and Niladri Chatterjee’s translation of Entering the Maze.

The ‘Beyond the Instagrammable Moment: The Dark Half’ session saw author Daniel Bosley shed light on the dark side of luxury tourism in Maldives alongside Kunal Basu, who delved into the conditions of the people from the margins. Both of them were in conversation with Sam Miller. Celebrating the 40th year of feminist publishing in India, ‘In Her Own Voice’ was a discussion and exploration into the challenges faced while pioneering women’s publishing in India. This session included Urvashi Butalia, Lennie Goodings and Jael Silliman conversing with women’s studies scholar Kavita Punjabi.

Lorenzo’s Quest celebrated the launch of Upamanyu Chatterjee’s new novel titled ‘Lorenzo Searches for the Meaning of Life.’ The author discussed his intentions and inspirations behind his new book with Festival Director, Anjum Katyal. Bengali film and theatre actors Swastika Mukherjee and Riddhi Sen shared their take and experiences on how books take on audio and stage avatars. The session titled ‘Off the Page’ was moderated by Bengali actor and director Sudeshna Roy.

The ‘Today’s Dystopias’ session witnessed a discussion on two new novels – Meghna Pant’s ‘The Man Who Lost India’ and Rajat Chaudhuri’s ‘Spellcasters’, based on similar themes of strangeness in a fictional dystopian world. ‘The Man Who Lost India’ was officially launched at the Festival by actor Swastika Mukherjee.  Day 1 of AKLF concluded with ‘Tablawallah Unplugged’, where Pandit Kumar Bose discussed a life lived in music with percussion maestro Bickram Ghosh and Rohen Bose, the narrator of Tablawallah.

The Oxford Junior Literary Festival at Oxford Bookstore started with a reading session with author, Anita Agnihotri and Madhurima Vidyarthi. The event aimed to engage middle school students between classes 6-8 with the celebrated children’s authors. This was followed by a workshop for students between classes 2-5 led by renowned Bharatnatyam dancer Sohini Roychowdhury.

Poetry Café, a trademark segment of AKLF, began with Open Mic, calling all poetry enthusiasts to read their work. Poets in other sessions included Mahek Goyal. The IPPL poet’s showcase included readings from the likes of Sanjukta Dasgupta, Gopal Lahiri, Nishi Pulugurtha, Amit Shankar Saha, Amita Ray, Sekhar Banerjee and Aneek Chatterjee.


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