Books: The Empire writes back to Cheltenham

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Fifty years ago this August, Nehru's midnight "tryst with destiny" ended the Raj and brought independence to India and Pakistan. On 30 June this year, Hong Kong's reversion to China closed the Empire's final act. From 10 to 19 October, many events at the Cheltenham Festival of Literature, in association with The Independent, will celebrate the richness of writing from the Subcontinent and reflect on Britain's long imperial aftermath.

Booker contender Arundhati Roy will explore her roots in Kerala and the origins of The God of Small Things on the eve of the award ceremony. Bombay- born writers Amit Chaudhuri and Ardashir Vakil share their experiences of growing up in India's most vibrant city. Delhi-based Mukul Kesavan talks about his novel of Partition while historians Patrick French and Sunil Khilnani revisit the bitter struggle for freedom.

Travel writer William Dalrymple will look back to the early days of the traffic between Indian and British cultures when he recalls the "British Moghuls". Actor Tim Pigott-Smith will recount his own love-affair with India, which began with the filming of The Jewel in the Crown. And many of the Indian writers at Cheltenham will come together to consider East- West relationships in fiction.

In the "End of Empire debate", leading historians will discuss decolonisation. And Harry Ritchie will reveal the highs and lows of his comic journey around The Last Pink Bits. Withdrawal from the colonies had far-reaching effects on British society too: D J Taylor, Jonathan Coe and Michael Bracewell discuss the state we're now in, while Hanif Kureishi will talk about his work, with its striking voices from a post-imperial Britain. The question of whether our future lies over the Channel will be explored in a "European lecture" by Norman Davies. But Little Englanders can take refuge in a session on cricket, with Jack Russell and "Dickie" Bird.

For full Festival details, ring the Brochure Hotline on 01242 237377. To book tickets, call the Box Office on 01242 227979