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A Literary Tour Of Delhi
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A Literary Tour Of Delhi

Picture of Shreyas Kulkarni
Updated: 2 August 2016
Delhi, the capital city of India is an enigma. It’s noisy, messy, and chaotic and yet it seems so peaceful and content. For centuries, Delhi has attracted traders and invaders alike and the wars, the people, the governments – everything and everyone who have passed through the city are reflected in its rich literary culture. This city has a huge love for books; it’s where India’s biggest publishers are, where you’ll find the best universities and where the best writers descend here to launch their books. We discover the writers and the stories that weave through Delhi’s streets.

Delhi: A Novel

Khushwant Singh, was one of India’s most loved writers. Known for his charm and wit, his books and columns were read by people across India. He wrote many novels and of his best work was ‘Delhi: A Novel’. The book moves backwards and forwards in time through the history of Delhi. It has as its backdrop the story of a journalist fallen on bad times and his relationship with a eunuch named Bhagawati. She becomes Singh’s metaphor for the city – ugly, energetic – he saves her life when she is abandoned on the side of the road, and she saves his, when he is caught up in the riots of the Emergency. This tale traverses six hundred years of both grandeur and squalor in the city and immortalises a whole host of colourful characters.

Delhi Literature Festival

Delhi Literature Festival is one of India’s most famous and attended festivals. The aim of the festival is to promote art, culture, and literature. It also aims to support young writers and students to make sure the rich legacy of the arts and literature in the country doesn’t wane. It took off in 2013, with events such as book readings, book launches, workshops, performances, speaker events, panel discussions and many more. The festival is attended by a diverse range of artists, politicians, writers and academicians.

You can know more about the festival and its schedule through their website.

Sahitya Akademi Award - Surjit Patar | © Satdeep Gill/WikiCommons
Sahitya Akademi Award – Surjit Patar | © Satdeep Gill/WikiCommons
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Sahitya Akademi

Sahitya Akademi is India’s national academy of letter. It was established in 1954 and is committed to promote Indian literature throughout the world. The Sahitya Akademi recognises twenty four Indian languages, including English. The Sahitya Akademi Award is an annual literary honour conferred to outstanding books of literary merit in the language recognised by the Akademi. It’s considered an utmost honour to be awarded this prize. However, in 2015 more than 35 award winners returned the honour to protest against increasing levels of intolerance in India, religious extremism and the murders of eminent rationalists. It was a demonstration of the power of the written word, and how a significant, non-violent protest can inspire debate amongst the people.

35, Rabindra Bhavan, Ferozeshah Road, New Delhi, Delhi 110001 +91 11 2338 6627

Penguins, Dorset | © H Matthew Howarth/Flickr
Penguins, Dorset | © H Matthew Howarth/Flickr
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Penguin Books India

Penguin Books India is the largest English language trade publisher in the Indian subcontinent. This book publisher is the most famous in India. For more than two decade, India’s most popular and successful books have been published by Penguin, and the literary powerhouse and has changed the literary landscape of India by providing increased access to cheap books. It’s a giant on the Delhi writers’ scene and the place to go for both traditional and contemporary classics.

11 Community Centre, Panchshila Park, New Delhi, Delhi 0124 478 5600 +91 124 478 5600

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Oxford Bookstore

The Oxford Bookstore has become an iconic part of Delhi. Established in 1919 in Kolkata, it has expanded to many other cities, Delhi being one of them. Each Oxford Bookstore has well-curated sections (arranged by genre), a great, welcoming ambience, and world class amenities in keeping with international trends. Apart from the books, they also have the Cha Bar, a charming café where you can carry your book and read it while sipping on some piping hot tea and relishing some delicious snacks. A book lovers paradise.

N-81, Connaught Circus, Block N, Connaught Place, New Delhi, Delhi 110001 +9111 3350 3291