A flood of authors, books at Taj festival
By Brij Khandelwal, Agra, Feb 3 : Organisers of the Taj Literature Festival Sunday faced a tricky situation: a queue of writers wishing to have their books released but few readers in some sessions.
"We were never prepared for this virtual avalanche of books," said Somya Kishore, in charge of book releases.
"At one function, there were no fans to cheer the young novelist from Aligarh whose maiden novel 'I have been replaced' was released," he added.
At some parallel sessions, there were more authors with their books than readers. "Looks like book writing is a huge industry or passion in the Taj city," commented social scientist Om Srivastav.
But this was not so for all the books.
Journalist-writer Neelesh Mishra released Anupam Sinha's "Virtual", the world's first philosophical thriller.
But the book that brought tears and touched the hearts of everyone was spiritual therapist Lipa Rath's maiden book, "Living Courageously".
Shivani Chaturvedi called it "most touching moment of the festival".
The Gurgaon-based Rath explained the background and the content of the book.
"It is a journal about living, learning, healing, growing and being free. The book introduces a wide range of topics organised into several short chapters, each offering a window into the search for the meaning of life."
The most controversial book of the festival was Raj Kishore Raje's "Bharat Mein Angrez," which ridicules many of the revolutionary heroes of the freedom movement and lauds the contribution of the British empire towards integrating and reforming social structures.
A book on Fatehpur Sikri, Mughal emperor Akbar's capital, by veteran journalist Bhanu Pratap Singh created ripples in academic circles, after the author presented new evidence to link Fatehpur Sikri with Jainism.
The author told IANS: "Fatehpur Sikri area was a major pilgrim centre for the Jains. This has been proved by recent excavations by the Archaeological Survey of India."
A book on Sufi poetry by Ghumakkad Agantuk Ram, "Saqi Soofi Hai," also attracted notice.
A large number of books released were based on personal experiences, and what one might call poetic outbursts against the system.
The organisers had put up several stalls for sale of books and for authors to give away their autographs.
"The rush of students was unbelievable, exciting," said Amber Bannerjea, principal of DPS School, the venue of the three-day festival.
In three days thousands of students visited the campus and interacted, heard and saw some of their celebrated writers such as Shobha De, Prahlad Kakkad, Hemant Kumar and Ankur Chawla.