In The City, A Library – a celebration of books

By 07 Apr 2017

For bibliophiles, it was an evening to remember and an opportunity to spend time with books, poems and a show — a gallery of photos on display at Project 88 in Mumbai. It is a project that looks at how time interacts with books and how books respond to use.

In The City, A Library by Chirodeep Chaudhuri and Jerry Pinto is on display until 8 April 2017

'In The City, A Library' by Chirodeep Chaudhuri and Jerry Pinto is on display at Project 88 and it’s open for public viewing until 8 April 2017.

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What is a library? Is it a collection of books? Is it a collection of readers? Is it an interaction between books and readers? Is it that interaction posited against time? Can one divine the way a book has lived simply from looking at its pages, looking closely, looking respectfully? And what are the questions that you have for libraries, for books, for the fate of the book and the fate of the library?

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Time is a thief but its depredations leave books marked in many beautiful and uncommon ways. The book has a certain place in our civilisation. But no book is more than its contents, whether its scripture or its Voynich Manuscript that has resisted all attempts at breaking it. But a rare book is much more than its words, it may never be read, it may never be opened even so as not to damage its spine. It may turn from book to fetish object and its fetishisation is an index and not of its cultural value, but its economic worth.

untitled-5(left) Ranjit Hoskote reading a poem

Organised by Project 88, 'In The City, A Library: Poems & Prose, a conversation with Ranjit Hoskote and Jennifer Robertson' was held on 5 April 2017. The evening consisted of reading poems about books and libraries across time zones and cultures that run the gamut from Borges to Arundhathi Subramaniam; Ranjit Hoskote to Sappho; Jerry Pinto to Calvino. The readings were interspersed with conversation around the origin of libraries and antiquated books.

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Chirodeep Chaudhuri is the author of the critically acclaimed A Village In Bengal: Photographs and an Essay, a result of his ancestral village in West Bengal, India and his family's nearly two century old tradition of the Durga Puja. His most recent book With Great Truth & Regard: The Story of the Typewriter in India documents the history of the manual typewriter in India.

Jerry Pinto is an author of Em and the Big Hoom, which won the Hindu Lit for Life Award.

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