Ncell Nepal Literature Festival 2014 drew literary lovers in the thousands to convene at Nepal Academy for four days (September 19-22). The rain could not stop the throng of people wanting to hear and see their literary idols.
The literary festival was inaugurated by Dr. Banira Giri and keynote speech delivered by Dr. Chautanya Mishra. Highlights of the first day included a packed session on “How will Nepal develop?” and “The Writer Couple” featuring two international writers Tishani Doshi and Carlo Pizzati talking with Richa Bhattarai. Another popular session on the first day was on social media (video below).
The second day started with another packed session on “Hydropower” and the audience enthusiastically interacted with the panelists. “Chronicles of Bush bazaar” with Matthieu Aikins and Aunohita Mojumdar was insightful. Matthieu who has done reporting from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria and other places shared his on the ground experiences and reporting. Ishwor Kadel’s new novel Echoes also was launched in the afternoon. Audience participation in the session “Sampadakiya Sotantrata” was high which featured Dhruba Hari Adhikari, Sudheer Sharma, Prakash Rimal and Bishnu Sapkota. The day wrapped up with Rajesh Hamal speaking with Archana Thapa. After the session, a group of young people also had a chance to take a selfie with Rajesh Hamal which might have already went viral on Facebook.
The third day began with the session “On economic diplomacy” which mostly focused on the relations between Nepal and India. Panelists Yubaraj Ghimire, Akhilesh Upadhyay and Prashant Jha talked with Kiran Nepal on this session. This session was followed by “Long-form journalism in the age of short attention spans” moderated by Kanak Mani Dixit with Rabi Thapa, Hartosh Singh Bal and Matthieu Aikins (picture above). The much awaited session “Politician as writer” Hari Sharma in conversation with Shashi Tharoor took place in the afternoon. It was the highlight of the third day and Shashi Tharoor spoke of his writing career, digital media, reprint of his books, helping boost Nepal’s tourism (through social media) among other things. He also signed copies of his book to eager bookworms. “Kaha gaye ti din” moderated by Basanta Basnet and featuring Abhi Subedi and Bairaghi Kaela was a session not to be missed. Later on Twitter, Prashant Jha described this session as “one of the best sessions of the show basantaji!.” The day finished with wity and seranading gazals.
The final day of the festival started with the keynote address by Shashi Tharoor on “The anxiety of audience: An Indian writer in English interrogates his craft.” The session was moderated by Prashant Jha. Celebrity gossip was also a much talked about session. “Battles for representation” with Yukta Bajracharya, Ujjwala Maharjan, Samip Dhungel and other Word Warriors talked and displayed their wordplay skills. The final two hours of the day featured various poets reciting their poetry.
Ncell Nepal Literature Festival 2014 is always a highly anticipated event in Nepal’s literary scene. Much credit goes out to the Bookworm Foundation and the volunteers for pulling off this feat every year. The rain did cause delays and rearranged the sessions but overall it was a literary fiesta to have been part of. Until next year, stay tuned with Nepali Bytes to be closer to Nepali language and literature.