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Jaipur Literature Fest heads to Belfast for first time…(June 21-23)

Jaipur Literature Fest heads to Belfast for first time…(June 21-23)

Festival completed London edition on Sunday (June 16) and now heads to Northern Ireland…

A LITERARY bandwagon like no other is now heading to Belfast in Northern Ireland, having charmed London and pitches up its familiar ‘tents’ from Friday through to Sunday (June 21-23) there.

It’s the first time the Jaipur Literature Festival is going to Northern Ireland.

The international editions of JLF are a chance for people to experience a little bit of the excitement and fervour of the festival in Jaipur itself, where crowds of 60,000 in a day are not unusual. The festival in Jaipur is 11 years old, and there are now several international editions in North America.

Restaurateur Asma Khan

First organised in Jaipur, is often given the moniker, ‘the greatest literary show on earth’ (originally coined by Tina Brown, former magazine editor), and in a UK context rivals big music events such as Glastonbury.

Continuing its theme of shared histories and stories – the festival in Belfast is looking at the poetry of Yeats and Tagore, Gandhi and non-violence, borders, science, identity and even culinary history too. The festival in Belfast is spread across three venues.

It opens at Belfast Harbours Commissioners on Friday evening, and heads to The Lyric Theatre on the next day before finishing at Seamus Heaney HomePlace on Sunday.

The festival gets underway with an opening addresses and then begins with the talk, The Last Mughal, where William Dalrymple, co-director of the Jaipur Literature Festival, will debate the splendour and legacy of the Mughal Empire with Vidya Shah, an Indian writer and cultural activist. (Friday, 7pm-8pm, Belfast Harbour Commissioners.)

William Dalrymple, Jaipur Literature Festival co-director

A number of other distinguished speakers and authors are heading to Belfast.

Among these are Tara Gandhi Bhattacharjee, the granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi, and the vice-chairperson of the Gandhi Smriti (the museum in New Delhi dedicated to the Mahatma’s teachings) and author of ‘Reflections of an Extraordinary Era’.

She will discuss, Gandhi In Times of Violence, with Navdeep Suri, a distinguished writer himself and currently India’s ambassador to the UAE. (Sunday, 2.15pm-3.15pm Seamus Heaney Homeplace)

Asma Khan, the woman behind the successful Darjeeling Express restaurant in London, and the popular Netflix series, ‘Chef’s Table’ discusses her influences and experiences with Joris Minne, the Belfast Telegraph’s restaurant critic in a session entitled, Darjeeling Express: A Chef’s Table. (Saturday, 1.05pm-1.55pm The Lyric Café bar)

Sanjoy Roy, managing director Teamwork Arts

William Dalrymple, co-director of ZEEJLF at the British Library – which finished on Sunday (June 16), told delegates: “We wanted to bring Seamus Heaney (the renowned poet from Northern Ireland) to Jaipur and he agreed but he died that year, so now we are going to him.”

Sanjoy Roy told the Irish Times in an article: “The programming reflects the core idea in each of our international festivals: to bring together some vigorous literary dialogue onto one stage.

“JLF Belfast will explore our common legacy of post-conflict literature, cultural and political impact.

Jonathan Stewart, director of British Council Northern Ireland

“The Festival will showcase ideas and voices outside of the ‘Anglo-centric’ cultural expectations and will be a celebration of poetry, music and the written word.”

The festival is being brought to Belfast with Arts Council Northern Ireland, in partnership with the British Council and Teamwork Arts.

Jonathan Stewart, British Council, director or Northern Ireland, said: “The British Council is honoured to be working with our colleagues at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Jaipur Literature Festival to deepen the existing literature connections that we have with India, and to welcome authors from India to Northern Ireland and share Indian writing and publishing with our audiences at the inaugural JLF Belfast in June 2019.”

Picture clockwise (and reversed): Jan Carson; Malachi, Patrick Gale; Garrett Carr; Asma Khan; Salil Tripathi; Paul McVeigh; Sudeep Sen; Pico Iyer; David Park; Eric Ngalle Charles; Shannon Yee


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Written by Asian Culture Vulture