Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai LitFest 2016


Wordsmiths from across the world to congregate at Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai LitFest 2016


  • Announcing the first line-up: Amitav Ghosh, Nicholas Shakespeare, John Gray, Ramachandra Guha, Kiran Nagarkar, P. Chidambaram, Shashi Tharoor and Jayant Narlikar, among others
  • Cutting-edge performances from across the world
  • Four-day festival: 17th November through 20th November, 2016
  • Two venues: NCPA, Nariman Point and Prithvi Theatre, Juhu
  • Three new awards to recognise excellence in the literature-for-children category and playwriting
  • Entry is free and on a first-come, first-served basis


Mumbai, October 24, 2016: Come November, over 130 celebrated writers and thinkers from over 30 countries will converge at Mumbai’s biggest international literary festival – Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai LitFest.


Among the illustrious first line-up for the 7th edition of the festival will be Amitav Ghosh, the Indian novelist who has examined the perils of ignoring climate change in his new book, The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable; Nicholas Shakespeare, literary critic and descendant of William Shakespeare; John Gray, political philosopher and author of False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capitalism; Ramachandra Guha, Indian historian and Padma Bhushan recipient and Simon Armitage, the sardonically witty British poet, famous for the dramatisation of the Greek epic poem, The Odyssey. The festival is set to sweep the city of Mumbai from Thursday 17 to Sunday 20, November 2016.


Held simultaneously across two iconic cultural venues – the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA), Nariman Point and Prithvi Theatre, Juhu – the four-day festival will also feature Frank Moorhouse, Ma Thida, Sanjaya Baru, P. Chidambaram, Jairam Ramesh, Girish Karnad, Anuvab Pal, Keki Daruwalla, Kiran Nagarkar and Jayant Narlikar, among others. Legendary lyricist and poet, Gulzar, and the suave Indian film director and producer, Karan Johar, will lend the festival a flavour of Bollywood.


Says Amitav Ghosh, “A literary festival in what is probably the world’s most vibrant city is sure to be hugely exciting. I very much look forward to it. I’ve had some memorable conversations in Mumbai. I’m looking forward to more.”


Founder & Festival Director Anil Dharker says, “‘Who are the stars of the festival this year?’ is a question I am asked everywhere I go. What can I say? For us, all the writers coming here are stars in their own right. The best known writer in Argentina or Germany or Brazil may not be a household name in India, but nevertheless, they will have a huge international reputation. Simon Armitage, the formidable British poet who holds the prestigious chair of Professor of Poetry at Oxford University, will also be here. But is he a household name? So I take the safe route and mention names everyone in India has heard of: Amitav Ghosh and Gulzar, Shekhar Gupta and Vir Sanghvi, Mahroof Raza (one of the few sane voices on television news) and P Chidambaram.

All our participants will ensure that the festival lives up to its lively image as a platform where literature is truly celebrated through freedom of speech and expression, and where there is never a dull moment. We are thrilled to bring to the audiences of Mumbai and the country, the first glimpse of this annual literature fiesta. More authors will be announced at the end of this month with the full programme revealed in November.”


On a lighter note, Anil Dharker recounts, “When his agent told me that John Gray had agreed to come, I wrote back, ‘That`s great. Men are From Mars, Women are from Venus is a hugely popular book here.’ ‘But that’s another John Gray!’ the agent replied. It turns out that the John Gray we were actually talking about is a former Professor of Political Philosophy at both Oxford and the London School of Economics. How fortunate, I said to myself, that I was corresponding with John Gray`s agent, and not the man himself. And even more fortunate to have him attend and share his thoughts on matters ranging from Al Qaeda to atheism.”

Dr. Mukund Rajan, Member – Group Executive Council and Brand Custodian, Tata Sons says, “The Tata group is delighted to announce the city’s favourite annual global confluence of authors, poets and public figures – Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai LitFest. In its 7th edition now, we have seen this festival originate, grow and flourish in an era defined by creative expression, thus stimulating conversations and encouraging curiosity in young minds. The first line-up is a glimpse of the promise this edition holds for literary enthusiasts across India, and across the globe, and we hope to delight our audiences, once again!”

Plays, performance poetry, and storytelling with music are an integral part of the festival. This year’s schedule presents an array of performances, some of which are:


  • White Rabbit Red Rabbit by the Iranian playwright, Nassim Soleimanpour, is an audacious theatrical experiment wherein actor and audience discover the script together. The Hindi edition of this play premieres at the festival
  • A one-woman performance, Poetic License, by Erika Batdorf from Canada will see theatre and interactive speech come together to create a funny and magical world of poetry
  • The Ballads of Bant Singh where Nirupama Dutt interviews the subject of her powerful biography, Bant Singh, in an hour-long evening interspersed with songs, conversations and storytelling
  • Women on Record by Vidya Shah is a lecture demonstration that takes us back to the early twentieth century – the Gramophone era – to visit the incredible women performers who were divas of their time

Workshops this year, curated for both adults and children, will feature international writers and poets undertaking sessions on fiction, theatre and poetry. For adults, these include Writing Biographies by John Zubrzycki, Writing Horror Fiction by Darryl Jones, Poetry from Brazil by Angelica Freitas, Writing Drama for Radio by Sue Roberts, Lens to Lens, a session on photojournalism by Sandor Jaszberenyi, and Machine Plays, the art of performing plays without rehearsals by Nassim Soleimanpour, among others. For children, the sessions feature Worlds within Words, a multi-lingual poetry workshop by Adrian Grima, Yolanda Castano and Sampurna Chattarji; How to draw everything, a workshop on illustration of stories by Gillian Johnson and Story’xpress, a storytelling session for lesser privileged children.

Since its inception, Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai LitFest has instituted awards to honour achievements by Indian writers, both emerging and accomplished. Seven awards will be presented to celebrate and recognise outstanding works – the Tata Literature Live! First Book Awards and the Tata Literature Live! Book of the Year Awards in the Fiction and Non-Fiction categories; the Tata Literature Live! Business Book Award, Tata Literature Live! Poet Laureate Award and Tata Literature Live! Lifetime Achievement Award.


Taking this initiative forward, the festival this year has introduced three new awards – the Big Little Book Awards for Author and Illustrator in the Literature-for-children category, and the Sultan Padamsee Award for Playwriting.


The Big Little Book Award, instituted in association with the Tata Trusts’ Parag initiative, will recognise excellence in two categories – one for an author and the other for an illustrator/artist. This is a first-of-its-kind award instituted to recognise and honour significant contribution by authors and illustrators to children’s literature in Indian languages. For authors, the award will focus on one Indian language every year; this year the language is Marathi. For illustrators, nominations are open in all languages.


The Sultan Padamsee Award for Playwriting, an endeavour to stimulate English theatre writing in India, will be presented to winners for the first time on the Tata Literature Live! platform. Nominations for the 2016 edition have been received from across cities in India, and also from across the world, including Ontario, Berlin, Dublin, Bristol, London & New Jersey. In addition, scenes from the three winning plays will be enacted for audiences at the festival. The award was instituted in 1966 in memory of Sultan (Bobby) Padamsee, Founder of the Theatre Group, which gave Mumbai productions like Macbeth, Othello, Salome, Crime Passionelle and Antigone. Among the prominent winners of this award have been Gurcharan Das with Larins Sahib, Gieve Patel with Princes, Dina Mehta with The Myth Makers and Cyrus Mistry with Doongaji House.


The Tata Litlive MyStory Contest, which invites entries from unpublished writers, recently concluded its 2016 edition with a whopping 1800+ entries. The first 5 winners based on popular choice have been announced, setting the stage for the announcement of the next 5 winners based on jury selection.


For more details about Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai LitFest 2016, please visit:


Entry to the festival will be free and on a first-come, first-served basis.


The Tata group is the title sponsor of Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai LitFest and Landmark is the book store partner. The festival is conceived by Anil Dharker, Founder and Festival Director of Literature Live!, which organises the festival with the support of the Tata group.




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