Jaipur: Described as the ‘kumbh of literary festivals’, the 10th edition of Jaipur Literature Festival came to a close on Monday. Over 400 world leading names and minds in the fields of fiction and non-fiction writing took part in the festival that began on January 19.
Some of the renowned personalities that attended the five-day event include Javed Akhtar, Ashwin Sanghi, Lila Azam Zanhaneh, Prasoon Joshi, Richard Flanagan, Luke Harding, Bibek Debroy, Paul Beatty, Mallika Dua, Hardeep Singh Puri, Hyeonseo Lee, Alan Hollinghurst and Shashi Tharoor.
- American poet Anne Waldman appeared in a number of sessions to talk about Ginsberg, her life and to share her experimental poetry.
- Young UK based poet and spoken-word artist Kate Tempest entertained the audience on the Front Lawn on the last day raising whoops and cheers for her energetic delivery and insightful texts.
- Festival Directors Namita Gokhale and William Dalrymple both featured in sessions to talk about their own recent books, Things to Leave Behind and Kohinoor.
- The yoga guru Sadhguru, author of Inner Engineering: A Yogi’s Guide to Joy, spoke at the Front Lawn on the first morning suggesting that ‘Human intellect is firing like never before. This is why people are suffering. They have to think for themselves, not rely on scripture or a guru.’
- Novelist and community activist Mridula Koshy, Anne Waldman, social theorist Ornit Shani, screenwriter and advertising guru Prasoon Joshi and chess champion Anuradha Beniwal all met across the five days with Puneeta Roy to contribute their experience and mind to the Festival theme Freedom to Dream looking at India today in the context of its history and its future including its democracy, citizenship, perception, persuasion and ideas, travel, adventure and freedom.
- Friday morning’s sessions with Rishi Kapoor and then Anand Neelakanta, Prasad Devineni, S.S. Rajamouli and Rana Daggubati drew an excited and cheering crowd to fill the Front Lawn of the Diggi Palace.
- The economy was discussed in a number of sessions, always returning to the issues of demonetisation. Some of the world’s finest economists and business minds including Ha-Joon Chang, Sanjay Agarwal, Kunal Bahl, Amitabh Kant, Frank Trentmann, David McWilliams, Dambisa Moyo, Sadaf Saaz got together at ZEE JLF to discuss this and other issues and ambitions in the field of economics.
- Aishwaryaa, UN Goodwill Ambassador for gender equality, has borne witness to the positive changes that have come about in the film industry in the last decade, to a packed Front Lawn crowd she shared, ‘Five years ago, it would have been close to impossible for a woman director to do more than one film, but now I’m about to direct my third.’
- The most Brexit is ‘the most divisive issue in Britain’, according to Guardian journalist Jonathan Shainin, who in a panel with Andrew Roberts and Timothy Garton Ash who described the Brexiters as naïve utopians.
- Shashi Tharoor stirred up the crowd on Sunday morning declaring that the Empire was an ‘exercise in serving its own perpetuation.’ ‘What the British Raj has deprived us of is our self-respect,’ said Tharoor, to enormous applause.
- Philip A Lutgendorf and Shubha Vilas joined Arshia Sattar in a conversation about Lord Hanuman to discuss the deeper aspects of the revered monkey god. Historical fiction came under examination in Rewriting History: The Art of Historical Fiction looking at how you write a novel set in a period of history long before you were alive with some of the best in the world, Adam Thirlwell, Alan Hollinghurst, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Shazia Omar and Namita Gokhale.
- A session on Exile, Taslima Nasrin told the assembled crowd, “I don’t believe in nationalism, I believe in one world of rights and freedom.”
- Authors who participated in JLF-2017 represented writing in thirty languages.
More than 100 musicians both global and local filled the mornings at Diggi Palace and the evenings at Clarks Amer. Music from artists including the arousing Shillong Chamber Choir, Swanand Kirkire and Anukur Tewari started the day for festival visitors, and the hugely popular Raghu Dixit Project, Lisa Hannigan, Soulmate and Inna Modja drew the crowds on the lawn of Clarks Amer in the evening.
The crowds gathered at Amber Fort and Hawa Mahal for two mesmerising Heritage Evenings in partnership with Rajasthan Tourism, in two stunning settings. Lit to accentuate the beautiful details of these heritage properties, around 1,200 people flocked to Amber Fort to hear the celebrated poetry of Anne Waldman from the USA and Bollywood lyricist Swanand Kirkire. At Hawa Mahal around 700 people went on a journey through the magical realm of entertainment with Vidya Shah and Luke Kenny.
Festival Director Namita Gokhale said, “There’s always a sweet sadness as the festival draws to a close. It’s been a wonderful exhilarating year, and the speakers and sessions covered a huge range of themes and narratives. I’m taking notes already, jotting down ideas, and gearing up for 2018.”
Festival Director William Dalrymple said, “I think it was our strongest year yet, both at the main festival and at the Music Stage. Our artists were all magnificent and I’m incredibly proud of them.”
Sanjoy Roy, Managing Director of Teamwork Arts, Producer of the Festival, said, “There are many truths and the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival is a platform to reflect some of these. And continue to make sense of the world that we inhabit and envision the future.”
Three more editions of JLF this year
Far from being the end of the Festival in 2017 – there is set to be three further editions of JLF across the world at the British Library in London this May, and then the second edition of the Jaipur Literature Festival in Boulder, Colorado, USA in the autumn, and the newly announced JLF Melbourne next month. The international outposts of the JLF festivals will be produced by Teamwork Arts, which in addition produces over 25 highly acclaimed performing arts, visual arts and literary festivals in more than 40 cities across the world.
Next year the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival will run from January 19 to January 23. The Festival has already announced a handful of writers lined up for next year including Amy Tan, Arundhathi Subramaniam, Dipanker Gupta, Davesh Soneji, Graham Swift, Hari Kunzru, Ian McEwan, Mario Vargas Llosa, Michael Morpurgo, Michael Palin, Neil Gaiman, PJ Harvey, Rohinton Mistry, Sunita Narain, Viet Thanh Nguyen and Zadie Smith.
First published: January 23, 2017