Hosted by Joshua Newton, those taking part in the fest send selfies with their favourite book and a note on what effect it had on them.

Kerala writer hosts online Face and Book Festival of literatureAnjali Menon inaugurated the Face & Book Fest
Features Books Monday, April 27, 2020 - 20:10

Two books written by M Mukundan had molded early ideas about men and women for Paul Mohan aka Raman. He is, three decades later, a trained behaviour counsellor, psychotherapist and a documentary filmmaker based in Chennai.

Holding one of those books - Aval Paranjoo Varoo (Come, she said) - Paul Mohan poses for a photo to take part in an event called Bodhy Books Face & Book Festival. Writer and former journalist Joshua Newton has been hosting the online festival for 16 days now, starting April 12, three weeks into the lockdown imposed due to COVID-19.

He is in his tenth floor apartment in Kochi, ‘pitter-pattering’ a new novel, though he swore never to write another after the first took five years of his life. “I have been on a lockdown for 10 years now, but one that I am very happy with,” says Joshua on a call with TNM.

He quit journalism after 18 years of working with various publications, from Deepika to India Today and Associated Press. Since then, he has been on an ‘inner journey’, he says. But he observed that others around him were not dealing with the lockdown so well. Joshua thought he could bring in a fun activity with the Face & Book Festival. Those taking part in it send him selfies with their favourite book and a note on what effect that book had on them.

“I thought of this as a way for people to brush up their old love for books. There are many who used to read a lot and then just dropped the habit. There are others who have bought books and couldn’t read,” Joshua says.

Director Anjali Menon inaugurated the fest with a picture of herself holding Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Memories of My Melancholy Whores and a pair of reading glasses.

The festival will end with a post by director Shyamaprasad, Joshua says, the filmmaker he wrote a script for in 2009. Rithu was Joshua’s first script, and he later wrote a segment in Kerala Café. Nothing he wrote after that made it to the screen, ‘for no wrong reasons of mine’, Joshua writes on his site Bodhy Books.

Bodhy is the publishing platform he founded to bring out e-books, print books and a weekly e-magazine. Joshua's book Soul Biscuits: Tiny Bites For Truthful Living has also been published on it.

Entries come with confessions, revelations and more

Joshua says that he thought there’d be enough entries to publish one a day for the Face & Book Fest. But he’s received so many that he is putting out multiple entries in a day now. “Some of these come with confessions, some are revealing, some talk about how a book’s given them courage,” Joshua says.

For Nadira, a retired Railway official and author, Erich Fromm’s To Have or To Be opened a new way of looking at everything. "From the way we converse with each other to craving possessions and even allowing ourselves to be identified by it. I shockingly realised that like most, throughout my life I had lived in that mode imprisoned by those fears. When I began switching over to ‘being’ mode, life has become more kind to me. It helped me to be more in the present with less hunger and more peace," she writes.

For Amritha, an associate director of Malayalam movies, re-reading Marquez's book - One Hundred Years of Solitude - 'opened a door to dream in my reality'.

Thanks to JD Salinger's cult classic The Catcher in the Rye, Mangaluru-based PG student Leo James stopped regretting his 'wayward adolescence' of the sort that the protagonist Holden Caulfield exhibited in the book. "We live. We learn. We grow up. We become better somewhere sometime on the way, right? Caulfield taught me that being young and naive is natural. I was set free!" Leo writes.

English teacher Priya K Nair says it best when she notes how writer Orhan Pamuk, through his words, 'makes the world a tolerable place where it is alright to be ordinary.' 

Also read: This Kerala panchayat is using a new tool for social distancing: An umbrella