Writer Inga Žolude on her experience in India’s book festivals


2017, May 30

Writer Inga Žolude on her experience in India’s book festivals

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This year, Latvian prose writer Inga Žolude and literary agent and translator Žanete Vēvere-Paskvalīni went to India in order to explore its national book market and attend two literary festivals in Jaipur and Kolkata.

Inga Žolude is the author of six collections or short stories and novels. Her novel A Solace for the Adam’s Tree (2010) earned her the prestigious EU Prize for Literature.

Tell us about your trip to India, how did it go?

India was captivating! I had a wonderful time there! I attended two literary festivals, one of them – the Jaipur Literature Festival – is said to be the world's largest event of its kind. I had an opportunity to speak to a truly international audience from all parts of the world, and listen to authors whose works I had read and whom I never had dreamt of meeting.

Last year in India Nora Ikstena’s collection of short prose “Dzīves svinēšana” (Celebration of Life) was published in Hindi. Do you know who made this possible, and how did India get word of her book in the first place?

Nora Ikstena’s works have wide appeal also outside of our local book market. She is very open to collaborations, thus translations of her works are largely the result of her own hard work.

How are the festivals in India different from the ones in Europe?

Indian climate is great for holding open air festivals. The festivals are crowded – they have a totally different culture – culture of reading. Authors are still seen as wise people whose message is important for readers.

What is Indian book market like, did you notice anything in particular?

I didn’t have enough time to study it properly, but the Indian book market is really  big, since around 11 million people live there and one of the official languages is English. There are so many opportunities for a writer. I witnessed the love and adoration readers express towards their renowned authors – they were asked for autographs and selfies. At the same time, they make sure Indian language is represented in their literature in order to compete with the great amount of Anglophone literature in the market.

How interested is India in publishing foreign literature?

Their interest for publishing corresponds to the interest they have for a certain country, culture, or author’s personality. For most people in the audience my reading was their first interaction with Latvia, so I hope I left a good impression.

Has Latvian literature got a potential to enter Indian market? Which books drew the most attention there?

Entering the market would be an overstatement! If a book is published in one of India’s languages, one can count on distribution regionally. Like everywhere else, it is nearly impossible for our literature to compete with the truly big markets.