After being cancelled for two years in a row owing to the Covid pandemic, the Paris Book Festival, France’s main literary event, was held in Paris – and welcomed India as its guest of honour country.

Some 90,000 visitors, a delegation of more than 35 Indian authors and publishers invited by the Indian partner National Book Trust and the French Institute in India attended the three-day festival from 22 to 24 April 2022.

The new location at the Grand Palais Ephémère, located on the Champ-de-Mars, next to the Eiffel Tower gave new visibility to India.

An innovative choice of Indian authors invited by The French Institute in India

The idea was to present new voices in Indian contemporary literature to the French audience. The richness of novels in Indian languages and their translation into French gave the opportunity to discover a new trend in the diversity of Indian regional literature. Perumal Murugan (Tamil), Geetanjali Shree (Hindi) or Aanchal Malhotra (English) reflect the renewal of identities and themes in Indian literature. The graphic novel & silent comics produced by George Mathen (Appupen) or the children’s albums written and published by Bijal Vachharajani  (Pratham Books) offered new creative horizons to young adults and children readers.

The program was also based on singular voices from the diaspora always connected to the Indian regional identities. Deepak Unnikrishnan, with his roots from Kerala but born in Abu Dhabi, offered a new approach to the decennial Indian immigration in the Emirates with his novel Contemporary People. His novel will be translated into French and Malayalam in the coming months. With Dr K, the Kashimiri Mirza Waheed, based in London, explored the fragility of our moral codes and the painfulness of exile. The variety of talents and tones were also reflected through the works of Manu Joseph, Ajay Chowdhury, Vikas Swarup in Indian thrillers, and also through the views of Anuradha Roy & Shoba Narayan on inhabiting India, from the Himalayas to global Indian cities.

Supporting independent publishers on a new B2B platform

A delegation of 9 independent publishers (Om Books International, BEE Books, Kalachuvadu, Seagull Books, Eklavya Foundation, Thadagam, Vani Prakashan, Pratham Books and DC Books) of Indian languages attended the Paris Book Market, a new platform for B2B meetings and rights exchanges organized by the BIEF. The Paris Book Market gave an opportunity to the young and existing Indian publishers to meet their partners and discuss the new collaboration projects to work jointly and present French Literature in India and vice-versa. No doubt in future it’ll bring the new panorama of contemporary literature along with the classics for both the country’s readership.

What’s next for Indian readers: French LitFest in India

Eminent French authors, graphic novelists and children’s writers bring forth a French literary weekend filled with round tables and debates on contemporary French literature and poetry at prestigious Bikaner House, followed by interactions with children and book signings at some of Delhi’s most popular bookstores. Also, witness a literary award ceremony with the announcement of the Romain Rolland Book Prize to award the best translation in 2021 of a French title into an Indian language, including English.

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