Valley of Words Came to Kolkata with the Joy of Words

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News Desk, News Nation 360 : Valley of Words (VoW), an international literature and arts festival based in Dehradun was inaugurated in Kolkata at The Bengal Club. VoW is run by the Valley of Words Foundation Trust, a registered charitable Trust, established to support creative expressions across all genres through literature and arts festivals, debates, symposia, conversations, book launches, exhibitions, musicals, theatre, poetry cafés et al. Since 2017 the Trustees of VoW have organized four successful festivals in the picturesque setting of the Dehradun valley. After having successful chapters in Delhi and Hyderabad, VoW Kolkata edition was a 2-day literary meet on 6th & 7th Nov. At the inauguration ceremony, the welcome address was delivered by Ambarish Dasgupta, President, Bengal Club, who mentioned how Kolkata was a city of literature and the arts, an ideal location for VoW. Anjum Katyal, co-Director and curator of the Kolkata edition of Vow, spoke next about what to expect over the next few days, followed by Festival Director Sanjeev Chopra, who announced a new initiative, the signing of a partnership for learning with the prestigious National Digital Library of India with VoW. Prof (Dr.) Partha P Chakrabarti then spoke about the pathbreaking work of NDLI to make books and educational resources available free throughout the country on a digital

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platform, and the agreement was duly signed by both parties. Sushil Misra of the SKM group spoke about educational opportunities, and the inaugural was concluded by Rudra Chatterjee, Past President of ICC, who stressed the value of books and reading. The Kolkata edition was curated around the shortlisted titles in the English Fiction and Non-fiction category of the annual VoW Book Awards, along with city-based authors from two other categories, Hindi Fiction and Translation. Being a hybrid event, the festival crossed geographical boundaries to directly connect short-listed authors based in the USA, UK, Sweden and other Indian cities to city-based panellists and discussants. The festival witnessed a few book launches, the first being  Every Second Counts! by Master Trainer Manick Maitra, Special Commissioner of Revenue and Additional Director of NSATI, Government of West Bengal. This valuable guide on training was released by VoW board members Amna Mirza and Sanjeev Chopra. The second launch was The Ambassador and the Private Eye, a detective novel by Krishnan Srinivasan who engaged in an interesting conversation on crime fiction with Chief Guest Monabi Mitra, herself a much-published author of police crime novels. The third launch of the festival came on day 2 with Blaze: A Son’s Trial by Fire by Nidhi and Sushil Poddar, which was launched by the renowned cardiologist Dr Kunal Sarkar. The last book launched at the festival was Jumbos on The Edge by Sanjeev K Chadha and was launched by V.K. Yadav of the Indian Forest Service. A long day of discussions ended with a feast of Hindustani classical music performance by ITC Sangeet Research Academy. An instrumental ensemble of Abir Hossain, Ayan Sengupta, Paramananda Roy and Ashoke Mukherjee delighted the audience, followed by a rousing virtuoso vocal performance by Omkar Dadarkar, accompanied by Sarwar Hussain on sarangi, Gourab Chatterjee on harmonium, and Bivash Sanghai on tabla. The second day of the festival witnessed a session on the new novel Kulbhushan ka Naam Darj Kijiye by the renowned author Alka Saraogi with Ramanjit Kaur. The next session Woman Front and Centre was on woman-centric debut novels of Sakoon Singh, author of In the Land of Lovers and Mahek Jangda, author of Sometimes Ivory, Sometimes Sand with the writer Karuna Ezara Parikh. The main highlight of day 2 of the festival was Poetry Café which saw the release of Karuna Parikh’s book of poems Where Stories Gather and many other discussions. Moderated by Sanjeev Chopra, the last but one session Those Sixteen Stormy Days was a discussion on the passing of the 1st Amendment of the Indian Constitution with the author Tripurdaman Singh and Jawhar Sircar and Sunanda K. Datta-Ray. The session Beyond The Wall marked the last session where Gautam Bhatia discussed his speculative fiction title The Wall and its sequel with the writer Sandip Roy.

Pic & Report : Anustup Kundu