About the 2012 Neustadt Festival

Indian-Canadian writer Rohinton Mistry was awarded the 2012 Neustadt Prize during a festival that celebrated Indian literature and culture in September 2012. Samrat Upadhyay, the writer who nominated Mistry for the prize, spoke at the banquet during which Mistry was presented the award. Other festival guests included Susan Andrade, Sudha Bhuchar, Beena Kamlani, Emily Rook-Koepsel, and Vijay Seshadri.

As part of two roundtable discussions of Mistry’s work during the festival, these writers spoke about the importance of his literary achievement and various contexts—social, historical, political, literary, and cultural—for understanding his fiction. These panels, attended by a sizable audience (including a large group of high school students who had been assigned Mistry’s novel Family Matters in their English classes), helped illuminate the significance of Mistry’s work—and literature more broadly—in the contemporary world.

Between the two panels, a group of students from the OU School of Drama presented scenes from the play adaptation of A Fine Balance. These actors, touting well-practiced accents and utilizing maximal miming with minimal props, provided a flavorful accompaniment to Mistry’s realist novel.

Other events that took place during the festival included a poetry and dance performance at the Norman Depot, a “CultureQuest” event for schoolchildren, a documentary film and concert focused on Indian music, and, finally, the keynote speech by Mistry, delivered with grace and wit to a packed auditorium, that is included in the special section of this issue of WLT, available in print or digital format.