100 Years of Oxford Bookstore is the festival theme for 2023
AKLF 2023 is back on home ground at Park Mansions at Park Street. This historic edifice spread over 1.77 acres won KMC-INTACH Heritage Award for the commendable restoration work and preservation of Kolkata’s colonial-era architectural heritage.
The 100-Year logo of Oxford Bookstore was unveiled at the AKLF inauguration.
The 14th AKLF began its journey on the auspicious occasion of Swami Vivekananda’s birth anniversary
The inaugural day hosted three sessions dedicated to the centenary celebration of the Oxford Bookstore – “Much More than a Bookstore”, “Restore, Renovate, Re-use” and “The Oxford ‘Para’”.
As an inaugural bonanza for book lovers, bestselling author Jeffrey Archer was in conversation with Barry O’Brien.
Pulitzer Prize-winning iconic writer Alice Walker; actor Dhritiman Chaterji; Australian author John Zubrzycki; poet Jeet Thayil; author Anuja Chauhan will be among over 100 speakers at AKLF, which will be held in its original onsite format with some hybrid sessions.
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Kolkata, January 12, 2023: On the ground of the Park Mansions, Kolkata, the fourteenth edition of Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival (AKLF) was inaugurated by Priti Paul, Director, Apeejay Surrendra Group in presence of Maina Bhagat, Director, Oxford Bookstore and AKLF and Anjum Katyal, Director, AKLF.
The festival was inaugurated with the unveiling of the 100-year logo of the Oxford Bookstore. Priti Paul, Director, Apeejay Surrendra Group said, “Today marks the start of our joyous celebration of books and readers in honour of Oxford Bookstore’s 100th anniversary. After being severely impacted by the pandemic, it is heartening to see Oxford Bookstore rebound to a healthy and vibrant state, brimming with book lovers and buyers. We intend to continue the centennial celebration of Oxford Bookstore throughout the year, and AKLF 2023 is a great place to start. The 14th AKLF will be a four-day literary festival that will feature the best in fiction, translations, poetry, cinema, history, mental health, mythology, gastronomy, dance, history, art, and culture. We also have a dedicated children’s literature festival, the Oxford Junior Literary Festival, for young book and reading enthusiasts. I hope that the 14th AKLF has an impact on everyone’s life in Kolkata and beyond and fosters a love of literature.”
On the occasion Maina Bhagat, Director, Oxford Bookstores and Director, AKLF said, “As the 14th edition of AKLF unfolds a yearlong celebration of the Heritage Oxford Bookstore’s Centenary, it is important to recall and record the iconic institution’s journey over the decades – a journey which reflects the life, times and rich history of our great city. Oxford Bookstore has enabled generations of book lovers, to bring the world closer through books, to express their own vision of the future at the bookstore’s various platforms, to celebrate the diversity and richness of human experience. It has enabled our stories, our culture, and our history to be passed on to future generations. You see, bookstores are dreams built of wood and paper. They are time travel and escape, Knowledge and power. They are, simply put, the best of places (Neil Gaiman). As it steps into the future, Oxford Bookstore continues to strive for excellence, and to be, simply put, the best of places.”
Speaking at the inauguration Anjum Katyal, Director, AKLF said, “I welcome you all to AKLF with a sense of hope and faith. I see AKLF, a festival of books, writers and ideas, as a space of hope for a more inclusive society, a space of faith in humanity’s ability to connect as human beings. Reading connects us across the world, across class and colour and religion, across history and geography, across time and space. . . . In celebrating 100 Years of Oxford Bookstore, AKLF celebrates the infinite and inclusive world of a true bookstore, which makes space on its shelves and in its heart for debate, dissent, and contrasting points of view; and which welcomes writers of every race, caste and creed.”
The inaugural session was followed by the session named “Much More than a Bookstore” where celebrated Kolkatans shared their relationship with the century-old Oxford Bookstore. The speakers were Anita Agnihotri, Dhritiman Chaterji, Jawhar Sircar, Sugata Bose, Suvaprasanna and Barry O’Brien.
There was a hybrid session regarding ‘Restore, Renovate, Re-use’ which was on the occasion of 100 years of Oxford Bookstore, a discussion on the value of built heritage with the Director of Alliance Francaise du Bengale, Nicolas Facino, Director of Apeejay Surrendra Group, Priti Paul and State Convener of INTACH Kolkata, GM Kapur. The session was moderated by Mukul Agarwal.
The Oxford ‘Para’: The presentation was on the revival of Park Street which was presented by Monica Khosla Bhargava, followed by Barry O’Brien (The Anglo-Indians: A Portrait of a Community) on Anglo-Indians, ‘Calcutta 16’, and the city. The session based on Park Street and its surroundings, with its rich built and intangible heritage which can be considered the heart of the city.
The inaugural day also hosted the international best-selling author Jeffrey Archer. “Jeffrey Archer Unplugged” saw the celebrated author in a virtual conversation with Barry O’Brien.
Poetry Café, a trademark segment of AKLF, began with “Verse and Converse: Poets in conversation, with readings” presented with IPPL was coordinated by Ananya Chatterjee, Nabanita Sengupta, and Sanghita Sanyal across three sessions.
About Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival
Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival, India’s only literary Festival created by a bookstore and Kolkata’s first literary festival, reflects our city’s vibrancy of thought, its engagement with the literary world at large and explores literature as part of our tangible and intangible heritage. Celebrate books, music, art, film, and more with the finest creative minds in the nation and globally, as events unfold at the city’s magnificent heritage sites. Please visit www.aklf.in to know more.
About Oxford Bookstores
Established in 1919, Oxford Bookstore is one of the oldest heritage bookstores of the nation. It is India’s only bookstore to curate multiple literary festivals like Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival, Apeejay Bangla Sahitya Utsob and Hindi Sahitya Utsav. The Oxford Bookstore not only offers book lovers access to the very best books in a pleasing ambience, but also India’s first of its kind tea boutique, Cha Bar. At Oxford Bookstores, success is measured by the smiles on the faces of millions of happy readers that the brand has served over the last 100 years. Each time you walk into our iconic store in Kolkata, its old-world charm draws you in, leaving you enchanted and sure to return for more. Our fleet of ‘happy to help’ and knowledgeable booksellers and conversant hosts work round the clock to create a world-class browsing and reading experience. Be it through our books or our fine teas, we abide by the brand’s motto – Much more than a bookstore – at every Bookstore.