03 August, 2021

The Word Is Samizdat

In the face of censorship, an insurgency of the written word is afoot

Illustration by Sorit
The Word Is Samizdat

The literature portion of the Jaipur Literature Festival died sometime last week. We all know why. One can only express one’s sincere condolences. What remains is a festival and a pink city tagged on to it as a prefix. What is left to be done is the gushing over Oprah Winfrey and the applauding of Chetan Bhagat. Someone will be sweeping the confetti soon.

The organisers of the Jaipur Literature Festival have been in this position before. The idea of the kind of literary festival that they have chaperoned has shown signs of having developed a terminal illness for some time.

Sometime last year, they tried to organise a festival they wanted to call ‘Harud’ (autumn, in Kashmiri) in Srinagar, somewhat along the lines of what they do in Jaipur. Initially, this move was heartily welcomed. Kashmir, like most places where formal and informal curfews kick in early in the evening, has an extremely lively contemporary literary culture. Like in the former ussr and Eastern Europe before the Berlin Wall came down, when you can...

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