Books are not losing out to electronic media

Blocking an artist is blocking humanity, says organiser of Jaipur Literature Festival

Abu Dhabi: Contrary to popular belief, books are not losing out to the popularity of electronic media, according to the organiser of a prominent Indian literary festival.


Books and literary festivals are getting more popular across the globe, despite the popularity of TV [and other electronic media], said Sanjoy Roy of Teamwork Arts, the man behind the Jaipur Literature Festival in India, one of the most popular literary festivals in the world.

“It is a new phenomenon,” he said at an event at the Indian Embassy auditorium in Abu Dhabi on Monday evening. Navdeep Singh Suri, Indian Ambassador to the UAE, welcomed Roy to the event.

Roy said authors have new platforms these days to promote their books and get readership.

Responding to a member of the audience, who mentioned about people’s lack of time due to distractions caused by electronic media, he said: “It is a matter of individual choice. I don’t have a TV. I read a book and go to bed.”

About choosing books for reading, Roy said there is no formula or theory to choose a book. “You choose a book of your interest and comfort.”

He said literary festivals in small cities enjoy active participation of residents, compared to the similar events in big cities. “In a small city like Jaipur, everyone, including street vendors and rickshaw-pullers become part of the festival. Because they think that it is their own festival!”

Roy criticised the incidents of artists being prevented from attending an art or literary festival for political reasons.

“When you are blocking an artist, you are blocking the humanity.”

He said it was unfortunate that Sufi poets from Pakistan were not allowed to take part in The South Asian Sufi Festival that was held in Jaipur in October 2017.

The Sufi poets stand against Daesh and similar terrorists elements. “They could have given a divine experience to the audience!”

He was referring to the reports that the festival organisers said the Government of India turned down their request to invite 20 Pakistani authors for the event.

About the identity crisis of migrant communities, Roy said it is important for migrants to know their roots. “If you don’t know where are you coming from, how will you know where you going?” he asked.

Therefore, he said, one should know one’s identity. The identity crisis is a big issue in migrant societies such as the US.

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