Discussions on 'the age of intolerance', 'how to get published' and 'populism of poetry' are set to be on the anvil at this year's Delhi Literature Festival, which begins here on January 8.
The 3-day long literary event, in its fourth consecutive edition will host more than 50 authors, publishers, journalists, political leaders and diplomats from across the country who will engage in thought-provoking discussions.
"The entire programme content is new this time. The participation of authors has increased over the years and we have a lot more authors and sessions than last three years. All book launches and panel discussions that we are doing, we have never done that in the past," says Supriya Suri, Director, Delhi Literature Festival.
The festival which has been moved to the more centrally located venue of Dilli Haat is scheduled to be inaugurated by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, followed by a felicitation of eminent Urdu poet Munawwar Rana for his contribution to Urdu poetry.
Unlike previous editions where foreign authors and those from outside the city had taken centre stage, there will not be any participation by international writers this year and the festival will be dominated largely by city-based authors like Madhulika Liddle, Anna Vetticad, Kumar Vishwas and Om Thanvi, organisers say.
"We have a lot of participation from Delhi authors. Earlier we did have participation from foreign authors, from authors based outside Delhi but this year a lot of content is focused on Delhi authors," says Suri.
A dedicated session on the growing "climate of intolerance" that took the country by storm last year will set the debate rolling at the festival.
Senior journalist and author Saba Naqvi is slated be in conversation with former Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) ideologue Sudheendra Kulkarni, social activist and thinker Seshadri Chari and diplomat turned politician Mani Shankar Aiyar.
"We are hoping that the (intolerance) debate continues at the Delhi Literature Festival and we would like to have different views on it from the panelists along with a strong interaction with the audience. We are hoping that people come with an open mind and get into this debate," says Suri.
Eminent journalist Sankarshan Thakur's "The Brothers
Bihari" and art historian and curator William Dalrymple's latest "Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan" are among most awaited book releases at the event.
Dalrymple will also be a part of "Idea of India" with social worker and author Tarun Vijay and Deputy Cheif Minister of Delhi Manish Sisodia. Moderated by eminent journalist Shishir Gupta, the session is set to bring contemporary social issues and issues of identity to the forefront.
Publishing giants from country's leading publishing houses like Harper Collins, Penguin India, Om Books International and Red Ink will come together to share the tricks of the trade with aspiring writers and provide them with useful insights and advice on how to get their writings published.
With the soaring popularity of mythological fiction, the festival with also host a special session on the genre with bestselling authors like Vikas Singh, Suhail Mathur and Christopher Doyle.
The concluding session of the festival, "Rediscovery of India," offering tribute to the country's first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, will see his great grandson and Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi engaging in a discussion with popular television journalist Barkha Dutt.
Owing to the vigorous promotions, particularly online, the audience participation has also increased since the festival's inception.
According to their official Facebook page over 2,000 people have confirmed their presence at the festival and nearly 7,000 have expressed interest in attending it.
"In terms of audience, we have managed to reach a lot more people. The footfall has increased over the years. Last year we had an overall participation of 800-1000 people in the festival. This year we are looking to double that," says Suri.
"The support that we have been getting from the government is becoming stronger because people are really happy with Delhi having its own literature festival."
The opening day will also witness a live performance by Aanch, a city-based band which will entertain visitors with their sufi, fusion and Bollywood mixes.
The literary event is set to conclude on January 10.