Can't get enough of books in India(Read article summary)
The Jaipur Literary Festival in northern India attracts thousands of book-lovers, and provides greater access to literature for India's 1.2 billion population.
â€˘ A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.
Thousands of people packed beneath an enormous tent at the Jaipur Literary Festival in Rajasthan, northwestern India, in January. They came to see talk show superstar Oprah Winfrey, one of the featured guests at the festival. Among her many accomplishments is her book club, which drove book sales into the millions. But, with no Oprah equivalent in India, the young people in this country are spearheading their own book clubs.
Sumeet Shetty is an example. When heâ€™s not buying books, heâ€™s inviting authors to speak at his companyâ€™s book club in Bangalore. With more than 500 active members, itâ€™s one of the biggest on the subcontinent. Though that number is only a drop in the bucket in a country of 1.2 billion, it reflects a growing trend.
Literary festivals like Jaipur, one of the largest in South Asia, are exposing this generation to a variety of new authors. And, as the income of the middle class continues to rise, so does their appetite for buying books.
â€śMy generation has so much more access to literature than my motherâ€™s,â€ť says Surabhi Bhatnagar, who started a book club at her university in Rajasthan. Though she plans to work in information technology, she says it is the writings of English author Virginia Woolf and works like â€śInto the Wild,â€ť by Jon Krakauer, that captivate her.
Though right now in India books sell mostly by word of mouth, perhaps itâ€™s only a matter of time until this growing enthusiasm for literature blossoms into a world-renowned book club like Oprahâ€™s.