The Indian literary festival beckons in the Big Apple


With over 60 writers and poets, the biggest gathering in North America with timeless tales and literary lights

Our Bureau

New York, NYC

The Indo-American Arts Council (IAAC) announced its 2023 Literary Festival, set to take place on November 18th and 19th at the Conrad New York Downtown. This year’s festival is set to be an extraordinary Renaissance Weekend – a celebration of literature, culture, and intellectual discourse.

The IAAC supports all the artistic disciplines in classical, fusion, folk and innovative forms influenced by the arts of India. The focus is to help artists and art organizations in North America as well as to facilitate artists from India to exhibit, perform and produce their work here.

Among the distinguished lineup of authors and thought leaders, Jose Thomas, recipient of IAAC’s 2023 Trail Blazer Award, will discuss his biography ‘By Choice’. Additionally, the festival will feature Pulitzer Prize winner Vijay Seshadri, National Book Award finalist Sarah Thankam Mathews, Grammy-nominated artist, humanitarian, and author Chandrika Tandon and the accomplished actor and Lambda Literary Award winner, Maulik Pancholy amongst 60+ other luminaries from the literary world.

In continuation of its honored tradition, IAAC will also host a live Poetry Panel led by poetry curator, Dr Ravi Shankar. Prabha Khaitan Foundation will be co-presenting two sessions.

Free to the public, the literary festival will be held at the Hotel Conrad New York Downtown.

“We believe that the IAAC Literary Festival is not just a gathering of words, but a convergence of worlds. It’s a celebration of the totality of voices and cultures that bridge continents, even as it reflects an authentic Indo-American experience”, stated Rakesh Kaul, Vice Chairman, IAAC.

“As the Literary Festival Director, my passion is to weave stories and conversations that not only inspire but also highlight the rich fabric of human experiences,” said Preethi Urs, Literary Festival Director.

IAAC Board Member Yakub Mathew added, “We proudly welcome the participation of the respected Prabha Khaitan Foundation, whose collaboration will allow our Literary Festival to reach new pinnacles.”

This literary feast promises to be a weekend of engaging discussions, thought-provoking conversations, and a celebration of literature. The festival schedule for Saturday, November 18, is below.

11.00 AM – 11.50 AM ‘The Book Of Desire‘ author Meena Kandasamy, recipient of the Hermann Kesten award, in conversation with writer, scholar Nimmi Gowrinathan who was featured in New York Times, Vice amongst others.
  ‘All This Could be Different‘ author, National Book Award finalist, Sarah Thankam Mathews in conversation with author, teacher, and writer at New York Magazine Mallika Rao.
  ‘Stellar Singularity’ author, Global business leader and technology strategist, Elizebeth Varghese and NASA Chief technologist A.C. Charania in conversation with News Anchor, Public Speaking Coach, Women’s Leadership Lab Founder, Joya Dass.
12.00 PM – 12.50 PM ‘How Prime Ministers Decide‘ author and award winning journalist, Neerja Chowdhury, in conversation with Indian businessman and columnist Suhel Seth.
  ‘Identity’s Last Secret’ author, Jawaharlal Nehru University professor, prolific columnist, Makarand R. Paranjape in conversation with Sthaneshwar Timalsina, Professor Endowed Chair SUNY Stonybrook.
  ‘Colorful Palate‘ cookbook author, contributing writer to The NY Times, Washington Post and the Guardian, Raj Tawney in conversation with IAAC Chairman, Dr. Nirmal Mattoo.
2.00 PM – 2.50 PM Award winning author of ‘The East Indian‘, Brinda Charry, with ABC Reporter turned author of ‘Here To Stay’, Geetika Rudra, in conversation with First Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs of New York City, Center for Fiction Board Member and author, Sayu Bhojwani.
  Award winning author of a dozen books on the divine feminine, Teri Degler discusses her book ‘Gopi Krishna-A Biography‘ with Yoga teacher and author Eddie Stern – Educator, Co-editor for Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of World Textiles.
  ’India in Fashion: The Impact of Indian Dress and Textiles on The Fashionable Imagination’ author Dr. Vandana Bhandari in conversation with Prof. Preeti Gopinath, Associate Professor-Textiles at Parsons School of Design.
3.00 PM – 3.50 PM ‘Good Innings‘ author, Miss Calcutta, The Publishing Next Industry Awardee, Shobha Tharoor Srinivasan, also famously known as the Amul Baby, and Vandana Saxena Poria, Recipient of the OBE award and TEDx speaker, co-author of Alyque Padamsee’s book ‘Let me Hijack your Mind’ in conversation with acclaimed Filmmaker Ritesh Batra.
  ‘A Small Sacrifice For An Enormous Happiness‘ author, O’Henry and Pushcart prize winner, Jai Chakrabarti, highly recommended by the New Yorker, NY Times and Good Housekeeping, in conversation with author A.N. Phiroze whose writing has appeared in Guardian and Poets & Writers amongst others.
  Chief, Cardiothoracic Centre, AIIMS, Immediate Past Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research; Secretary to the GOI, author Dr. Balram Bhargava  will present  ‘The Making of Covaxin – The Inside Story‘.
4.00 PM – 4.50 PM Usha Uthup, The Queen of Indian Pop, will present her life story, ” The Swinging Singing Saree”.
  Padma Shri awardee, Dean of Computer science, India scholar, ‘The Idea of India: Bharat as a Civilization‘ author Subhash Kak in conversation with IAAC Vice Chairman Rakesh Kaul.
  Poet Ravi Shankar with his work ‘Tallying The Hemispheres’ in conversation with award winning professor and writer Susan Shapiro, who writes for NY Times, Washington Post, Elle and others.
5.00 PM – 5.50 PM Jose Thomas Recipient of IAAC’s 2023 Trail Blazer Award, Business tycoon; educator, a patron of the arts, and a relentless innovator, will discuss his biography, ‘By Choice’ in conversation with Sree Sreenivasan, CEO Digimentors, South Asian Journalists Association Founder and Nobel Prize Foundation Outreach Board Member.
  Curator of South and Southeast Asian Art for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, John Guy brings his book ‘Tree & Serpent: Early Buddhist Art in India’. He will be in conversation with gallerist and curator Josheen Oberoi, VP and Director at DAG. 
  Poetry Reading moderated by Dr. Ravi Shankar – Pushcart prize-winning poet, translator who has published over fifteen books. Jaswinder Bolina (English as a Second Language) – Pen America, Colorado Prize and Green Rose Prize in Poetry winner.
  Vivek Narayanan (After) – Harvard University, New York Public Library fellow. Professor at George Mason University.
  Vijay Sheshadri (That Was Now, This Is Then) –   Pulitzer Prize winning poet, James Laughlin Award recipient, and professor at Sarah Lawrence College.
  Zilka Joseph (Sweet Malida) – Best Indie Book Award, Pushcart nominee, Bene Israel Jews of India historian.
  Sreepada Munjuluri – The National Endowment for The Arts 2023 Poetry Out Loud national Champion. A High School Junior.
The Festival schedule for November 19 is:

11.00 AM – 11.50 AM

The Book of Everlasting Things’ author Aanchal Malhotra who has been shortlisted for the British Academy Book Prize & the Sahitya Academy Yuva Puraskar, along with ‘Hyderabad: Book 2 of The Partition Trilogy’ author Manreet Sodhi Someshwar, Winner of Ladli Media & VOW awards, in conversation with author Kamini Dandapani.
  A Good Morning America and PureWow Best Book ’The Dream Builders’ author Oindrila Mukherjee and ‘Woman of An Uncertain Age’ author Priya Malhotra who won Bustle’s “Author – Most anticipated book” moderated by Makarand R. Paranjape.
12.00 PM – 12.50 PM.

Death of a Lesser God’ author Vaseem Khan, winner of the Crime Writers Association Sapper Books Historical Dagger, Times Best seller, Eastern Eye Arts, Culture and Theatre Awardee, in conversation with writer, author Nev March.
  ’Nikhil Out Loud’ author, actor and Recipient of the 2023 Lambda Literary Award winner Maulik Pancholy and Shastri Akella, Winner of the Fractured Lit Flash Fiction Contest and the Best Microfiction Contest with the book ‘The Sea Elephants’ in conversation with curator, editor of The Common, writer Jennifer Acker.
  Grammy nominated artist and humanitarian. author of the book ‘Ammu‘s Treasures‘, Chandrika Tandon, in conversation with Melay Araya who is the creative director, writer, and archivist and the Artistic Director of The Town Hall.
1.00 PM – 2.00 PM

The Teaching of Kathakali in Australia: Mirroring the Master’ author, Playwright, performer, Kathakali dancer, actor, Arjun Raina in conversation with IAAC Chairman Dr. Nirmal Mattoo.
  ‘Bhali Ladkiyan, Buri Ladkiyan (Hindi)’ author, Filmmaker, journalist, translator, Ramnath Goenka Awardee for Excellence in Journalism, Anu Singh Choudhary in conversation with author Manreet Sodhi Someshwar.
  ‘My Cousin Max’ author Julia Regul Singh, who strives to promote multi-cultural and cross-cultural understanding and acceptance, and Ravina Aggarwal – Anthropologist & Ford Foundation Program Officer with the book ‘Searching for the Songbird’ in conversation with author, Priya Kumari.

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