Let me happily welcome you all to the third edition of Kerala Literature Festival put together by the DC Kizhakemuri Foundation, Kottayam being held in five venues on the Calicut beach from 8 to 11 February, 2018. The growth of the Festival has achieved in just two years has been phenomenal, both in terms of the range and quality of its content and the number of participants as well as of the audience. This would have been impossible but for the increasing number of willing sponsors, the generous cooperation of writers and thinkers from India and abroad and an audience eager to meet the litterateurs and public intellectuals they admire. No wonder KLF is now celebrated as the second largest literary event in Asia, a real people’s festival, the footfall last year touching one hundred and fifty thousand.
This edition comes with many special features. One central theme running through the deliberations at the Festival is dissent that we believe is central to any idea of real democracy. The circumstances of extreme intolerance and diverse kinds of violence that India- along with many other countries- is now passing through foreground the necessity of democratic opposition and the assertion of basic civil and human rights. KLF is conceived as an open platform for dialogue, dissent and discussion, the spaces for which seem to have been shrinking over the years. It is also a space for the Malayalam writers of three generations to meet and debate issues and evaluate the recent transformations in idiom and sensibility. It enables writers and thinkers in Kerala to interact with their coevals in other parts of India and of the world. This time we are showcasing Irish literature, with seven writers of various genres from Ireland including Gabriel Rosenstock, Conor Kostick , Liam Carson and Paddy Bush, reading, talking and discussing their writing in the specific cultural context. Besides we have two writers from Spain, Latvia and Australia who will present their work and discuss the idea of ‘European’ literature. Then there is a whole contingent of writers, intellectuals and activists from different parts of India that includes among others, Romila Thapar, Upinder Singh, Arundhati Roy, Ashis Nandy, Vandana Shiva, Teesta Setalvad, Jairam Ramesh, Ashok Soota, Pranay Lal, Anita Pratap, Sagarika Ghose, Ganesh Devy, Prakash Raj, Mahesh Bhatt, Rishi Kapoor, Kancha Ilaiah, K S Bhagavan, Bama, Jerry Pinto, Namita Gokhale, Anita Nair, Kavita Lankesh, Shabnam Hashmi, Anita Dube, Aseem Trivedi, Bala, Kanhayya Kumar, Rajdeep Sardessai, E P Unni, BRP Bhaskar, E P Unni, MGS Narayanan, Rajan Gurukkal , M Mukundan, Sethu, K R Meera, Benyamin and a whole group of younger writers – altogether more than 450 participants . The themes include, among several others, the plight of the media, the violation of constitutional rights, the state of cinema and arts, distortions of history, myth, religion and reason, changes in fiction and poetry and problems of translation in India.
We also have a special venue for a parallel, theme-based film festival curated by Bina Paul where films will be screened and discussed and we also have cultural programmes every day like Flamenco dance from Spain and Qawwali and Ghazal singing from India. Let us celebrate our cultural diversity that militates against any monolithic idea of the nation, interrogate set notions in aesthetics and politics and uphold the value of art and literature in a dark time of declared and undeclared proscriptions and censorships.
Welcome to the Kerala Literature Festival 2018 once again!