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South Asian literary duel highlights festival boom

Readers and writers show growing hunger for live events in internet age

Crowds line up for entry to the Jaipur tent in the piazza of the British Library. (Photo by Stuart Arnitt)

LONDON -- On either side of the River Thames, two nations often in conflict were recently unified by a single topic, with simultaneous panels sharing stories of the event that gave birth to both: the partition of British India into India and Pakistan in 1947.

Seven decades after that brutal event marked the end of colonial rule, a new struggle between India and Pakistan came home to the heart of the former British empire. On a single May weekend in London, overseas versions of India's Jaipur Literary Festival and Pakistan's Karachi Literary Festival were staged simultaneously -- each presenting its own clutch of novelists, scholars, poets and pundits.

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