Delhi’s speed date with literature

New Delhi, Sep 26 (IANS) It was Delhi’s speed date with European literature as nine authors came together on Friday night to share their work and views with literary enthusiasts in the capital. The event, ‘Long Night of Literatures’ was organised by Goethe Institut and Pro Helvetia – Swiss Arts Council. The event was held at Instituto Cervantes.

Conceptualised in 2010, it is the first time that ‘Long Night of Literature’ has introduced a novel format of ‘literary speed dating’ inviting authors other than from Germany and India.

“We thought of ‘literary speed dating’, but realised that for this unique format, we would need a higher number of authors. To ask other European countries whether they were interested in participating, seemed only natural. This is how it all fell into place. We are more than happy that the Indian audience cherished this new experience”, said Ute Reimer-Bohner, Director Information and Library Services, South Asia, Goethe-Institut.

While German author Danko Rabrenovic read out from his latest book on negotiating the idea of home as a Serbian in Germany, Katarzyna Bonda, queen of crime fiction from Poland, read from her latest thriller on a female criminal profiler.

Indian author and journalist Raj Kamal Jha read a couple of paragraphs from the first chapter of his novel ‘She Will Build Him a City’. Jha wrote his novel during his stay in Berlin. “I called the chapter ‘Winter Afternoon’ since I wrote it in the winter in Berlin. That was when my son saw snow for the first time, so I remember that,” he said.

The other authors included Aisling Fahey (Britain), Josef Haslinger (Austria), Constantin Simon (France), Gabor Lanczkor (Hungary), Asha Miro (Spain) and Andrea Blanchetti (Switzerland).

The format encouraged the audience to listen to several authors through the course of the evening where each one addressed a group of 12-15 people for 20 minutes. This concept allowed the audience – comprising of students, academics, authors, translators and literature enthusiasts in general, a very close interaction with the authors.

“This year, the ‘Long Night of Literatures’ presented a glimpse into the diversity that European literature represents. The new format required the audience to be committed and attentive. The format enabled close interaction with the authors and this was appreciated by the writers as well, as they engaged with a small group of people at a time. Representing diversity is never easy and this was but one small step,” said Chandrika Grover Ralleigh, Director Pro Helvetia – the Swiss Arts Council.

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