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God and Politics

2012-01-20 15:22:00

God, Jaffna, politics, cricket and poetry at Sri Lanka's book festival

GALLE, January 20, 2012 (TCS) - Debates on political realities, India, Jaffna and the existence of God figured prominently as Sri Lanka's annual literary festival began its third day in the southern port city of Galle.

Sashi Tharoor in conversation with Sanjana Hattotuwa

A discussion on writing political realities info fiction and journalism, attracted a full-house at the Halle de Galle, featuring prize-winning American writer and novelist Susan Minot, Sri Lankan-born novelist Romesh Gunasekera and journalist Irfan Husain.

Minot read excerpts of her story “Granta 118: Exit Strategies about the kidnappaing of Ugandian girls,” to highlight the necessity of acting in times of crisis.

"At the time of writing, I was moved by this horrific story of how the Uganda lords army was abducting girls," Minot said of her powerful story which features how the Uganda lords abducted 30 girls from a catholic boarding school.

The festival's spotlight on India series featured UN diplomat-turned-writer-lawmaker Sashi Tharoor in conversation with Sanjana Hattotuwa, who curates one of Sri Lanka's popular websites,

Tharoor, a prize-winning Indian author with 12 books, kept the audience at the Maritime Museum in stitches, narrating funny insights on how India, a once sleeping giant, transformed itself into a one of the world leading nations in technology.

"Mobile phones was once an item of the privilege class, today I see toddy tappers, fishermen and farmers using it to check market prices and do business," said Tharoor relating to events that surrounded his book "The Elephant, the Tiger and the Cellphone: Recollections on India in the 21st century".

He said India's gradual shift to bridge the communal divide can be seen in its national cricket team, whose fortunes are celebrated across all communities.

"Cricket those days, was dominated by players mostly from affluent families. But today its led by a players from small humble towns."

Controversial writer, Richard Dawkin, who disputes the existence of God in his book "The God Delusion" was a big drawcard on Friday, for the five-day festival that ends on Sunday.

He was followed by Minot and Priscilla Uppal, who led the audience through a Victorian themed session on tea and poetry.

Book lovers will be later treated to a string of fringe events centered around dinners with cross-section of writers and an evening of medley of French songs, jazz and light classical music by internationally acclaimed musician Jason Kouchak.