Festival History

Kriti is the Hindi word for “creation,” and Chicago’s Kriti Festival was launched in 2005 to celebrate South Asian and diaspora literature and arts. In 2005, 2007, and 2009, more than thirty writers, artists, performers, editors, and agents came to Chicago to share their work with the general public, through panel discussions, readings, theatrical, music, and dance performances, workshops, and more.

Kriti is directed by Dr. Mary Anne Mohanraj, executive director of DesiLit. DesiLit was initially created in the summer of 2004 by a group of writers and readers, growing out of discussions at a SAPAC meeting in Chicago. The Chicago members were primarily interested in putting on a literary festival in the city, bringing South Asian and diaspora readers and writers together. The Chicago group has added a regular reading group, and other DesiLit chapters (including the Bay Area and Toronto) engage in a variety of activities, from potluck socials to writing workshops and reading series. (Article on DesiLit, India Currents: https://www.indiacurrents.com/articles/2007/04/08/uniting-desi-writers-and-readers)

The 2005 Kriti festival was held at Northwestern University’s law school downtown, and featured Guest of Honor Chitra Divakaruni. 2007 was held at both Roosevelt University and the University of Illinois, and featured Guest of Honor Anita Desai. The 2009 festival was held at the University of Illinois, and featured Guests of Honor Romesh Gunesekera, Amitava Kumar, Bapsi Sidhwa.

From 2009 – 2013, the festival was on hiatus, but we are very happy to announce that it is returning in September 2014, and will be hosted at the University of Illinois at Chicago, co-sponsored by the English Department, the Asian Studies Program, and the Asian American Studies Program.

You can see past Kriti Festival sites here: http://www.desilit.org/kriti.php