January 21 2016
Famous Indian city of Jaipur to lay on annual red carpet for some of the world’s biggest authors…
THEY CALL it the greatest literary show on earth and for many reasons, it’s not just hyperbole when it comes to the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF).
Its origins may have been modest and unspectacular but with hundreds of authors from almost every corner of the globe set to attend, it’s a literary festival without equal.
Over 360 authors, personalities and notable public figures will entertain, enthral, and enlighten an expected audience of more than a quarter of million people from tomorrow (January 21-25) over five days.
Among the big names at this year’s festival are Margaret Atwood (inset centre), the Canadian novelist, Booker prizewinner (“The Blind Assassin” 2000) and championing environmentalist, is slated to open proceedings tomorrow at Diggi Palace, where the majority of the festival will take place.
This year’s Man Booker Prize winner Jamaican Marlon James (inset upper right) will get an opportunity to introduce Indian audiences to “A Brief History of Seven Killings”.
Photographer Steve McCurry (pictured below), who has been travelling the subcontinent for decades and was responsible for the famous Afghan girl cover will talk about his work at the JLF this year.
Among the British Asian contingent, 2015 Man Booker shortlisted Sunjeev Sahota “The Year of the Runaways” will be appearing, as will actor-writer, Meera Syal, who will be talking about her latest novel, “House of Hidden Mothers”, which features a British Asian woman travelling to Gujarat to find a surrogate mother.
Stephen Fry and Labour politician Tristram Hunt who has a book out, “Ten Cities that Made An Empire” should provide interesting fare to Anglophiles and expats alike.
Perhaps one of the most celebrated writers in the Anglo-American speaking world will get a chance to impress Indian audiences. Ireland’s Colm Tóibín is appearing at JLF not long after the film “Brooklyn”, adapated from his novel of the same name, has been nominated for an Oscar.
Alexander McCall Smith is another writer who is well known in Britain and his books sell in thousands but isn’t so well known in India.
Much celebrated war correspondent and Malala Yousafzai biographer, Christina Lamb makes a rare lit fest appearance.
Fans of the old episode style of releasing literature (as in the day of Charles Dickens) will delight in seeing the grandest of his contemporary imitators, Armistead Maupin, appear at the fest.
Among the most glamorous of speakers will be celebrated Bollywood director Karan Johar and India’s very own version of Jackie Collins, Shobhaa De, who will appear in the same session on the opening day.
Ruskin Bond (pictured here) is of India’s most prolific authors, whose first novel, “Room on the Roof” was published when he was just 17 and won the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize in 1957.
Since then has gone onto write many novels, short stories and children’s books and was given one of India’s highest civilian awards, the Padma Bhushan in 2014.
Sudhir Kakar is well-known as both a psychoanalyst and author in India, and has been a visiting lecturer at Harvard University. His many non-fiction books have explored the clash between modernity and tradition in India.
Two of India’s most popular authors are also headed to Jaipur – Ashwin Sanghi is releasing his “Sialkot Saga”; and Amish Tripathi returns as one of the big speakers towards the close of the festival.
Dalit activist and singer Bant Singh (pictured below) will be launching his biography in Jaipur, “The Ballad of Bant Singh” and will be in much demand as the country continues to agonise over the recent suicide of university Dalit activist Rohith Vermula and the political fallout in Hyderabad and Delhi.
Tara Gandhi Bhattacharjee (pictured below), another iconic figure in the battle for justice and anti-discrimination, heads to the fest. The granddaughter of the Mahatma, she is involved environmental issues and heads up one of the country’s oldest charities, tackling poverty alleviation.
Known officially as #ZEEJLF, after its main headline sponsor, the Indian multi-national broadcaster, the festival was created and continues to be created by William Dalrymple and Namita Gokhale. Dalrymple said it started as an offshot of another art and folklore festival and was boosted by tourists who wandered in not knowing what was going on. Since then the festival has got bigger and bigger and its free entry policy (you only need to register) had meant that many come to see what the fuss is about, as well as star gaze, buy books and exchange ideas and enjoy the surroundings of real palace.
He also interviewed prominent British Asian and London-based authors: Anita Anand, Kamila Shamsie, Farrukh Dhondy who was the moderator for the Sir VS Naipaul session and Romesh Gunasekera. See his interviews below…
www.asianculturevulture.com is at the Jaipur Literature Festival this year too and you can catch our coverage here and on social media feeds, primarily but not exclusively, FACEBOOK and TWITTER -make sure you’re connected and check in with us… and see the bird flying high!
Two video interviews from JLF 2015 but previously unpublished will be released tomorrow… see VIMEO