The French Riviera
The French, guest of honour for the 2023 edition had created a cute French Pavilion, designed by graphic novelist Simon Lamouret to resemble a French bookstore with a café inside, with an amazing lineup like a lecture by the 2022 Nobel Prize in Literature winner, Annie Ernaux that kicked off the first day, a discussion on illustration with graphic novelists Zeina Abirached, Lisa Mandel, Mathieu Bertrand and Lamouret; a talk on children’s literature with author Susie Morgenstern; and a performative reading by Karthika Nair and Joëlle Jollivet.
Honestly, the French Pavilion was such a trance with live paintings and, believe it or not, a DJ, not to mention the fantastic cappuccinos!
Ye Dil Manga More!
Simon and Schuster outdid themselves with an amazing Manga curation ranging from Junji Ito, do yourself a favour and check out this master of horror, Death Note Black Editions, Tokyo Ghoul (Not a manga for the squeamish!) to innovative categories like Bookstagram favourites (Colleen Hoover mostly) which drew a lot of attention.
The Penguin and Harper Navigation
Penguin and Harper were packed to the brim, and Jay Shetty’s new book was a huge hit. It was awesome to bump into authors like Akshat Gupta (The Hidden Hindu) and Saksham Garg (Samsara) touted as the Indian Harry Potter!
Penguin was managed by the neo-cool bookstore chain Kunzum, whose reps were patient with crazy book nerds like us in spite of long queues and no online payments because of the bad network (total craziness!)
The Notion Press Author Red Carpet
The revolutionary self-publishing house gave due importance to authors, even having a red carpet for them!
Meeting an author with a sash calling himself Prince, a new author who has written about impromptu writing, speaking to Naveen Valsakumar, Founder of Notion press who declared “ Next year it is going to be even bigger and better!”
Surreal to witness the attention to detail given by the publisher to the author and reader experience.
The Britisque wooden bookshelves were the cherry on top!
The coming of age of children books
Priyanka Agarwal Mehta and Richa Jha, authors of some awesome books for children, have truly brought out another dimension in the children’s book publishing space by addressing themes like cancer, empathy, communication and problem-solving.
This reflected in their quaint stalls.
The usual hustle for books on discount was rampant, with people carrying travel bags and suitcases to accommodate their purchases. However, the dominance of Hindi was evident, with Vani Prakashan taking the cake with their stall ‘Sahitya Ghar’ and a dedicated author session section.
Despite the grandeur of the event, there were some issues with management, coordination, unprepared volunteers and sound. Author sessions and stages seemed futile, I guess the seclusion required to immerse oneself in literary sessions is best left for the litfest or book club format.
Finding books by Nikhlesh Mathur, Veena Kapur, Ranabir Sen, Ashok Bhasin, meeting Jaipur Literature Festival Founder Sanjoy K Roy was just serendipity!
The French Riviera