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Indian and Australian literature celebrated in unique roving writer's festival

24 July 2013

Australian and Indian literature is celebrated in The Bookwallah, a unique roving writers’ festival and exhibition that begins its Australian tour at the State Library of Victoria today.

The Bookwallah charts the journey a small group of Indian and Australian writers on their quest to explore Indian and Australian writing and culture as they travel 4000kms across India and Australia by train.

On display is The Bookwallah’s travelling library, which has appeared everywhere from the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Mumbai, through to Platform 9 of the Chennai Central Railway station. As the library travelled through India it shed its books city by city: 1000 Australian books were donated to universities and local libraries along the way.

Now stationed in Melbourne, The Bookwallah library is stocked with Indian and Australian literature to be shared with Australian readers. The self-contained library travels in six kangaroo-leather suitcases – now scuffed from being hauled on and off trains and wheeled along bumpy streets – that fold out to create a pop-up reading room.

Sue Roberts, CEO and State Librarian, said the State Library is proud to work with the Melbourne Writers Festival and Asialink Arts to bring The Bookwallah to the Library.

'The Bookwallah continues a long tradition of cultural exchange through storytelling. In the literature and culture of another country we can better imagine the lives of others and enrich our own understanding of the world.'

The Bookwallah is open in the State Library’s Cowen Gallery until 1 September. The suitcases will then travel by train to Brisbane as the festival continues its Australian journey.

Four events complement The Bookwallah and a film screening of the journey will take place at Federation Square every Monday night at 6.30pm throughout August.

For event and booking information see the Melbourne Writers Festival program online.

Media inquiries

Matthew van Hasselt or Georgina Smart
State Library of Victoria, 03 8664 7263,
328 Swanston Street
Melbourne Victoria 3000