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The cricket tour – for writers

Aminatta Forna, Tom Stoppard and Zoë Heller heading to literary festivals in India and Sri Lanka

Anthony Gardner | January/February 2012

Winter tours of India and Sri Lanka have long been part of cricketers’ lives; now writers are following this migratory pattern. In five years, four major literary festivals have sprung up on the subcontinent, with Jaipur the first to win an international reputation. The season opens at Goa, celebrating 50 years of reunification with India: its focus is 1961, with Amitav Ghosh and Fatima Bhutto among the speakers. Next is Kolkata, centred on the revered and revamped Oxford Bookstore, and focusing on children’s books. The Galle Festival—described by Robert McCrum as “a beacon of hope” amid Sri Lanka’s political gloom—lures Aminatta Forna (above), Joanna Trollope and the Nobel nominee Izzeldin Abuelaish to its Lighthouse Hotel and 16th-century fort. Tom Stoppard and Richard Dawkins can be found both here and at Jaipur, where the constellation also includes Ariel Dorfman, Michael Ondaatje, Zoë Heller, Annie Proulx, David Hare, Helen Fielding, Umberto Eco and Steven Pinker. Howzat? 
~ Anthony Gardner

Goa December 17th-21st, Kolkata January 12th-15th, Galle 18th-22nd, Jaipur 20th-24th