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Literature in High Places

The list of Asian literature festivals is ever-expanding


Bhutan, as you probably know, is the only country in the world to measure the Gross National Happiness of its citizens. For its book lovers, there’s going to be a spike in the graph, come May, when its capital, Thimphu, plays host to the India-Bhutan Foundation’s Mountain Echoes, the country’s first literary fmg_24242_literature_280x210.jpgestival.

It joins the ever-expanding list of Asian literature festivals — there were jamborees in Hong Kong, Dubai and Karachi in the past month alone — and features some of the usual suspects: Namita Gokhale is programme consultant, Mita Kapur’s Siyahi is an associate, and Pavan Varma, the writer-diplomat who is currently India’s ambassador to Bhutan, is one of the lead movers behind it.

The procession on stage will be led by the Queen Mother, Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck and the PM, Lyonpo Jigmi Yoser Thinley. Other names on the roster include Urvashi Butalia, Omair Ahmad, Mitali Saran, Bulbul Sharma, Rajkumar Hirani (mandatory Bollywood presence), Chetan Bhagat (alas, not in the same event as Hirani), Gulzar, Sampurna Chattarji, Mamang Dai, Temsula Ao, Patrick French, Sadanand Dhume, Penguin India’s Ravi Singh, Leila Seth and Sarnath Bannerjee.

Dates: May 17 to 20. There doesn’t seem to be a dedicated Web site, so mail siyahi.jaipur@gmail.com for more.