This challenge is lit

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A 20-day online challenge invites users to share covers of Goan books that resonate with them. NT BUZZ gets you the details

ANNA FERNANDES | NT BUZZ

One of the more interesting online challenges that has taken Goan social media by storm recently is the 20-day Goa book cover challenge. The terms of the challenge are simple: every day, for 20 days, post a photo of a Goa book cover on social media along with a 50-word
description.

The idea, says independent journalist and alternative book publisher Frederick Noronha who initiated the challenge, was to simply popularise and create awareness about the diversity of Goan books and books connected to Goa.

The posts could be shared via Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, or on any other social media network – with one cover and description shared per day over a period of 20 consecutive days, or a total of 20 covers in batches on one or more day. “So, whether you read the book or not, you were invited to share 50 words on why you were attracted to the book or if you read the book and didn’t like it, why you felt repulsed towards it. It doesn’t matter who wrote the book, what language, or who published it – but it needs to be in some way linked to Goa,” he explains.

Noronha was actually accused of copying the idea from the internet which, he reveals is “absolutely true”. “I came across another book cover challenge online that worked slightly differently. But there is nothing wrong with taking a good idea and adapting it to our own needs. We have such little understanding of Goa related books generally that visibility is required. And it’s fascinating how social media can be used to build awareness,” he says.  The challenge that was launched on August 20 received a good response from a lot of people of all ages, from within Goa and outside who really enjoyed themselves.

Of course, a problem with sharing arose because not everyone is on all the apps. However, a Facebook page and a WhatsApp group were created to connect book enthusiasts and collectors who participated in the challenge. “I got a chance to reconnect with so many old colleagues and friends through this challenge. We started discussing books and Goan literature,” says Noronha, adding that participants also channelled their creativity through the challenge by sharing artistic photos of their book covers.

For Noronha, it was “a real learning experience”. “To my shock and horror, there were many books that I had not noticed before, especially writings by young people and self-published books of whose existence I wasn’t aware of, forget about reading or having it in my collection,” he says candidly. Some of the books discovered were even circulated to the Goa Book Club a serious group of about 600 book collectors in Goa.

Participants were also encouraged to share covers of Goa books in languages other than English too. “Goa is a multi-lingual reality and we didn’t want [the challenge] to be linguistically restricted. The more languages that are included, the better it is.”

The challenge also caught the attention of prominent translator Vidya Pai. “She told the story of her books that she translated which was fascinating because every book has a story behind it, and every translation has a story behind how it came about,” says Noronha.

And the challenge is still underway. The three best entries will be awarded Goa book prizes while everyone who completes a minimum of ten covers will be given a participation e-certificate.

Looking ahead, Noronha adds that the goal is to keep the challenge alive. “Awareness is an ongoing process. And if people are enjoying it – then I say why not?” he says.