Celebrated authors and poets participated in talks and readings at the 5th Annual IAAC Literary Festival hosted by the Indo-American Arts Council at the Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies at NYU in Manhattan, Oct. 19 and 20. The two-day festival included several discussions, book launches and readings as well as the first children’s literary festival, held in partnership with The Culture Tree.
Kanchan Koya presented “The Spice Spice Baby Cookbook,” a first-of-its-kind cookbook detailing the science of spices. She held the audience's attention by debunking myths, discussing the powerful benefits of the spices and inspired the attendees to cook with the spices.
Renowned scholar and curator at the MET Museum, John Guy, shared his extensive knowledge of South Asian art with a visually stunning presentation, detailing his book “Art and Independence: Y. G. Srimati and the Indian Style.”
Anjali Sachdeva talked about growing up between two cultures, how her debut short story collection, “All the Names They Used for God,” written over 12 years, came to be, the common thread between the stories, how it was written and more
Jennifer Acker, author of the debut novel “The Limits of the World,” was in conversation with Megha Majumdar, the associate editor at Catapult. Acker spoke about how the book is framed by family that has moved to a new continent almost every generation, to India, East Africa and then to the U.S.
Susham Bedi, who currently teaches Modern Indian Literature at City University of New York and previously taught at Columbia University, held an engaging talk with Ilieva and spoke of her journey and her work in Hindi Literature which has been widely translated.
Maya Lang, novelist and author of the forthcoming memoir “What We Carry,” presented an intimate and personal account of her relationship with her mother in conversation with IAAC chairman Dr. Nirmal Mattoo.
Veteran actor Anupam Kher held the audience in rapt attention during his chat about his new book “Lessons Life Taught me, Unknowingly: An Autobiography.”
Rakesh Kaul’s “Dawn: The Warrior Princess of Kashmir,” was launched at the festival. The book, a sci-fi saga, reveals eternal truths as it traverses the terrains of the Kashmir Valley. Kaul also engaged in a conversation with Gabriela Nik Ilieva, director of the South Asian Languages program at NYU.
Speaking at the children’s festival, Anu Sehgal, founder of The Culture Tree, said the group’s mission is to provide cultural literacy to kids, especially on South Asia. “As cultural educators, we are looking to providing children with authentic, immersive, fun and inspiring experiences,” she said.
Authors who participated in this session included Veera Hiranandani with her Newbery award- winning “The Night Diary,” a fictional account of one family's experience during the partition of India into two countries in 1947; Roopa Pai, who flew in from India, presented an interactive session with her talk on ‘The Ten Powerful Ideas From Ancient India’ that explores modern day questions parents and children face every day; actress Sheetal Sheth with her first children’s book “Always Anjali”; and Mona Sehgal with her debut novel “Under the African Sky.”
The session was followed by the acclaimed ‘Ramleela Puppet Story Time’ show presented by The Culture Tree, followed by Kavita Bafana, who presented the cultural show ‘Little Ustaads’ and read from “Namaste Jaipur” part of the Namaste series of books, a six-part series that brings the cities of India to children all around the world through well-written text and beautiful images.
Raakhee Mirchandani, a crusader against pediatric cancer, brought to the children “Super Satya Saves the Day,” an animated story that explores the inner hero in all children.
Winners of the Expressions Literary Contest for children were also felicitated.
Ravi Shankar, poet extraordinaire and a diaspora icon, led an evening of poetry reading at the end of the inaugural day. Poets from all over the world participated in this one-of-a-kind experience for the audience. Guests mingled, had book conversations and got their books signed at the post event wine reception.
Poets who participated were Jaswinder Bolina, Suffolk County poet laureate Pramila Venkateswaran, Kirun Kapur, Rafiq Kathwari, Diane Mehta, Subhashini Kaligotla, Ralph Nazareth, Tsering Wangmo Dhompa and Indran Amirthanayagam.