Jaipur literature festival Posts

Jaipur Literature Festival programme 2014

Jaipur Literature Festival programme 2014

150px-Logo_of_the_jaipur_literature_festival( Here is the full programme for Jaipur Literature Festival, 17-21 Jan 2014. This list was uploaded by Arunava Sinha, translator and journalist, on his facebook page earlier this evening.) 

The Jaipur Literature Festival 2014 programme. You’re welcome.

JANUARY 17, FRIDAY

FRONT LAWNS

10:00AM-11:00AM: Keynote Address – Amartya Sen

11:15AM-12:15PM: Antar Dhwani: Writing India, Speaking Bharat – Ganesh Devy, Shekhar Pathak in conversation with Malashri Lal

12:30PM-1:30PM: Face to Face – Ved Mehta in conversation with Samanth Subramanian

1:30PM-2:15PM: Book Launch – File Room by Dayanita Singh to be released by Geoff Dyer

2:15PM-3:15PM: Choices and Freedoms – Amartya Sen in conversation with John Makinson

3:30PM-4:30PM: Restless Women – Cheryl Strayed and Robyn Davidson moderated by Gaiutra Bahadur

4:30PM-5:00PM: Book Launch – Nazar Photography Monographs 02 – When Abba was Ill by Adil Hasan

5:00PM-6:00PM: Aakrosh – Neerav Patel, Hariram Meena and Irrfan Khan in conversation with Mahmood Farooqui

MUGHAL TENT

11:15AM-12:15PM: Habib Tanvir: A Life in Theater – Mahmood Farooqui and Piyush Daiya in conversation with Geetanjali Shree

12:30PM-1:30PM: Plantation – Emma Rothschild and Gaiutra Bahadur in conversation with William Dalrymple

2:15PM-3:15PM: Naman: Homage to a story teller – C P Deval, Mahmood Farooqui, Arjun Deo Charan, Prahlad Shekhawat and Irrfan Khan in conversation with Malashri Lal

3:30PM-4:30PM: Litcrit – Carsten Jensen, Geoff Dyer, Chandrahas Choudhury, Philip Hensher and Rana Dasgupta, moderated by Homi Bhabha

5:00PM-6:00PM: Crime and Punishment – Homi Bhabha, Martin Puchner introduced by Namita Gokhale. Dramatic enactment by Suhel Seth

BAITHAK

11:15AM-12:15PM: Cook on the Wild Side – Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall in conversation with Jack Turner

12:30PM-1:30PM: Words Without Borders – Ananda Devi in conversation with Urvashi Butalia

2:15PM-3:15PM: Story of a Death Foretold – Oscar Guardiola-Rivera, introduced by Nicholas Shakespeare

3:30PM-4:30PM: Mahasamar – Narendra Kohli in conversation with Vartika Nanda

5:00PM-6:00PM: Leaving Iran – Fariba Hachtroudi, Sahar Delijani, Reza Aslan in conversation with Michael Axworthy

DURBAR HALL

11:15AM-12:15PM: The Bangla Whodunnit – Gautam Chakrabarti in conversation with Rupleena Bose, introduced by Homi Bhabha

12:30PM-1:30PM: Textures in Translation – Readings: Benyamin ,Joseph Koyippally, Anand, Chetna Satchidanandan introduced by Rahul Soni

2:15PM-3:15PM: Serendip – Readings – Nayomi Munaweera, Ru Freeman, and Romesh Gunasekera, introduced by Supriya Nair

3:30PM-4:30PM: The price you pay: How not to make money – Somnath Batabyal, Raj Kundra, Arghya Lehri, introduced by Kishwar Desai

5:00PM-6:00PM: Rebellions and Revolutions – Readings — Vaidehi, Kaajal Oza Vaidya, introduced by Rahul Soni

CHAR BAGH

11:15AM-12:15PM: Jonathan Franzen in conversation with Chandrahas Choudhury

12:30PM-1:30PM: The Essential Gloria Steinem – Gloria Steinem in conversation with Ruchira Gupta

2:15PM-3:15PM: White Tribes of Africa – Peter Godwin and Justin Cartwright in conversation with Maaza Mengiste

3:30PM-4:30PM: Citizen Elites: the Dominance of the Priviliged – Dipankar Gupta, Manvendra Singh, Lily Wangchhuk, in conversation with Mukulika Banerjee

5:00PM-6:00PM: The experiences of global war 1937- 1945 – Antony Beevor introduced by Rana Chhina

JANUARY 18, SATURDAY

FRONT LAWN

10:00AM-11:00AM: The Global Novel – Jhumpa Lahiri, Jonathan Franzen, Jim Crace, Maaza Mengiste, Xioaolu Guo, moderated by Chandrahas Chaudhry

11:15AM-12:15PM: Burdens of Identity – Zeruya Shalev, Salma, in conversation with Namita Gokhale

12:30PM-1:30PM: The Art of Biography – A N Wilson, Ray Monk, Richard Holmes and Andrew Graham-Dixion, moderated by Peter Godwin

1:30PM-2:15PM: Book release – Gone with the Vindaloo: Vikram Nair, Book release by Suhel Seth

2:15PM-3:15PM: The Interpreter of Stories – Jhumpa Lahiri in conversation with Rupleena Bose

3:30PM-4:30PM: The Non-fiction Renaissance – Antony Beevor, Katherine Boo, Geoff Dyer, Rana Dasgupta and Reza Aslan, moderated by William Dalrymple

4:30PM-5:00PM: Book Launch – Travails with Chachi by Louise Khurshid, released by Shashi Tharoor

5:00PM-6:00PM: Symmetry – Marcus du Sautoy, introduced by Jim al Khalili

6:00PM-7:00PM: Award Ceremony for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2014

MUGHAL TENT

10:00AM-11:00AM: The Way of the Knife – Mark Mazzeti, Barnett Rubin, Adrian Levy and Ben Anderson, moderated by Jason Burke

11:15AM-12:15PM: M T : Chronicles of a Culture – M T Vasudevan Nair and Gita Krishnankutty in conversation with Ravi DC, introduced by Shashi Tharoor

12:30PM-1:30PM: Three Women, Three Africas – Maaza Mengiste, Nadifa Mohamad and Taiye Selasi, who will also introduce the session.

1:30PM-2:15PM: Book Launch – Peoples Linguistic Survey of India – Rajasthan ki Bhashayaen.

2:15PM-3:15PM: 1914:Remembering the 1st World War – Peter Stanley, Geoff Dyer, Maya Jasanoff, moderated by Rana Chhina

3:30PM-4:30PM: How to Write a Screenplay – Sabrina Dhawan in conversation with Nicholas Shakespeare

5:00PM-6:00PM: India at the crossroads – Louise Tillin, Sunil Khilnani, John Elliott, moderated by Meghnad Desai

6:00PM-7:00PM: Wittgenstein – Ray Monk. Introduced by John Ralston Saul

DURBAR HALL

10:00AM-11:00AM: Caravaggio – Andrew Graham Dixion, introduced by Partha Mitter

11:15AM-12:15PM: The Hunting Dogs – Jørn Lier Horst, in conversation with Kishwar Desai

12:30PM-1:30PM: Bibliomania – Nadeem Aslam, Cyrus Mistry, Carsten Jenson, introduced by Mita Kapur

2:15PM-3:15PM: Harvest/The Northern Clemency – Readings — Jim Crace and Philip Hensher, introduced by Supriya Nair

3:30PM-4:30PM: Shabd Sansar – Nand Chaturvedi in conversation with Madhav Hada, introduced by Nand Bhardwaj

5:00PM-6:00PM: Seasons of Flight – Farah GhuznaviManjushree Thapa, introduced by Ritu Menon

6:00PM-7:00PM: Portraits – Readings: Ivan Vladislavic and Rukmini Bhaya Nair introduced by Rahul Soni

BAITHAK

10:00AM-11:00AM: Writing, Meri Jaan – Jerry Pinto in conversation with Mita Kapur

11:15AM-12:15PM: Behind the Veil: Women Writers of the Islamic World – Nadifa Mohamad, Bejan Matur, Sahar Delijani, Shireen el Feki and Fariba Hachtroudi, in conversation with Urvashi Bhutalia

12:30PM-1:30PM: Why India Votes – Mukulika Banerjee, Manvendra Singh in conversation

2:15PM-3:15PM: How can the sacred be sensous? – Vidya Dehejia in conversation with George Michell, Kavita Singh and Naman Ahuja. Moderated by William Dalrymple

3:30PM-4:30PM: Vanishing Voices: The great Andamanese Languages – Anvita Abbi in conversation with Arshia Sattar

5:00PM-6:00PM: The Forgotten Ally: The Making of Modern China – Rana Mitter, introduced by Carlos Rojas

6:00PM-7:00PM: Dharohar: The Legacy of Rajasthani Culture – Sundeep Bhutoria, Sarpanch Rajawat, K.C. Maloo, in conversation with Rima Hooja

CHAR BAGH

10:00AM-11:00AM: Magnificent Delusions – Husain Haqqani , Robert Blackwill in conversation with Shyam Saran

11:15AM-12:15PM: Who Will Rule the World? – Amartya Sen, Oscar Guardiola-Rivera, Xiaolu Guo and Rana Mitter, moderated by Dipankar Gupta.

12:30PM-1:30PM: Bollywood Nation – Vamsee Juluri, Meghnad Desai, Irrfan Khan, moderated by Rupleena Bose

2:15PM-3:15PM: Bhasha Paribhasha – Vaidehi, Sachin Kundalkar, C.P. Deval, moderated by Navtej Sarna

3:30PM-4:30PM: The Paradoxes of Growth and Development – Shashi Tharoor, Mukulika Banerjee, Ravi Venkatesan, in conversation with Dipankar Gupta

5:00PM-6:00PM: Storytelling Around the Globe – Kavita Singh, Taiye Selasi, Xiaolu Guo, led by Kiku Adatto

6:00PM-7:00PM: The Bone Season – Samantha Shanon in conversation with Supriya Nair

JANUARY 19, SUNDAY

FRONT LAWNS

10:00AM-11:00AM: Writing the Self: On Memoir and the Autobiographical Novel – Ru Freeman, Ved Mehta, Joseph O’Neill, and Philip Hensher, moderated by William Suttcliffe

11:15AM-12:15PM: Raj aur Samaj: Democracy and the People – Kalyani Shankar, Navin Chawla and Pavan Varma in conversation with Ravish Kumar

12:30PM-1:30PM: The Rasa of Language: On Art, Pleasure and Technology – Vikram Chandra in conversation with Vidya Dehejia

1:30PM-2:15PM: Book Launch – In the open: Sculptures of KS Radhakrishnan, by Johny ML

2:15PM-3:15PM: Casualties of Love and Sex: The New Gender Fluidity –Margaret Mascarenhas, Mahesh Dattani, Sachin Kundalkar, in conversation with Bachi Karkaria

3:30PM-4:30PM: Jesus the Man, Jesus the Politician – Reza Aslan in conversation with A.N Wilson

4:30PM-5:00PM: Launch of the Australia India Institute Foreign Policy Series

MUGHAL TENT

10:00AM-11:00AM: History Strikes back and the Collapse of Globalism – Hubert Vedrine, John Ralston Saul, in conversation with Shashi Tharoor

11:15AM-12:15PM: The Immortals – Amish Tripathi in conversation withMeru Gokhale

12:30PM-1:30PM: The Cricket Novel – Joseph O’Neill, Shashi Tharoor, moderated by Samanth Subramanian

1:30PM-2:15PM: Vikas Khanna – Urdu Mein Hindustan

2:15PM-3:15PM: Javed Akhtar introduced by Ashok Vajpeyi.

3:30PM-4:30PM: Confronting the Classics – Mary Beard, Robin Cormack, Alex Watson in conversation with Vidya Dehejia and Naman Ahuja.

5:00PM-6:00PM: Freedom, Opinion and Expression – John Ralston Saul, Peter Godwin, Jerry Pinto, moderated by Madhu Trehan

DURBAR HALL

10:00AM-11:00AM; At the sea side – Readings: Alison Mac Leod and Lara Feigel, introduced by Geoff Dyer

11:15AM-12:15PM: Rajasthan ki Vachik Parampara: Oral Scriptings – Kavita Singh, Piyush Daiya in conversation with Malashri Lal

12:30PM-1:30PM: Prisons of the Mind – Rani Shankar Dass, Margaret Mascarenhas, Preeta Bhargava and Vartika Nanda in conversation

2:15PM-3:15PM: Rajasthali – Bharat Ola, Mangat Badal, Manisha Kulshreshtha and Nand Bhardwaj introduced by Durga Prasad Agarwal

3:30PM-4:30PM: The roof beneath their feet – Readings: Geetanjali Shree, Buket Uzuner, introduced by Mita Kapur

5:00PM-6:00PM: Atmospheric Disturbances/ The Wall – Readings: Rivka Galchen and William Sutcliffe, introduced by Supriya Nair

BAITHAK

10:00AM-11:00AM: Beauty and Fidelity: Texts in Translation – Sachin Kundalkar, Geetanjali Shree, Carlos Rojas, Rahul Soni, moderated by Jerry Pinto

11:15AM-12:15PM: Liberty’s Exiles – Maya Jasanoff, introduced by David Cannadine

12:30PM-1:30PM: Savage Harvest – Navtej Sarna in conversation with Urvashi Butalia

2:15PM-3:15PM: Much Maligned Monsters – Partha Mitter, introduced by Vidya Dehejia

3:30PM-4:30PM: Chronicles of Conflict and Change – Anuradha Sharma Pujari, Esther Syiem, K Anis Ahmed, in conversation with Somnath Batabyal

5:00PM-6:00PM: The Shia Axis – Vali Nasr, Barnett Rubin, Barnaby Rogerson, Michael Axworthy, Jason Burke, moderated by Reza Aslan

CHAR BAGH

10:00AM-11:00AM: The Art and Politics of Science – Dr Harold Varmus in conversation with Madhu Trehan

11:15AM-12:15PM: Dispensable Nation: Afghanistan after the US Withdrawal – Vali Nasr, Barnett Rubin, Ben Anderson, Mark Mazzetti, and William Dalrymple, moderated by Barkha Dutt

12:30PM-1:30PM: I, Me and My Plays – Mahesh Dattani in conversation withSanjoy Roy. Book Launch of I, Me and My Plays and Odiya edition of Dance like a man translated by Manu Dash

2:15PM-3:15PM: The Literature of War and Revolution – Antony Beevor, Artemis Cooper, Maaza Mengiste, Otto De Kat, Lara Figel, moderated by Rana Dasgupta

3:30PM-4:30PM: Raag Pahadi: Losing Himalayan Languages – Prasoon Joshi and Shekhar Pathak in conversation with Manjushree Thapa

5:00PM-6:00PM: Justice: What’s the right thing to do? – Michael Sandel, introduced by Homi Bhabha

JANUARY 20, MONDAY

FRONT LAWNS

10:00AM-11:00AM: Has Globalism Failed? Markets, Morals, and the Dictatorship of Reason – A dialogue between Michael Sandel and John Ralston Saul, chaired by Sunil Khilnani

11:15AM-12:15PM: Parde Ke Peeche: The Scriptwriters Story – Sachin Kundalkar, Mahesh Dattani, in conversation with Rupleena Bose

12:30PM-1:30PM: Capital – Rana Dasgupta in conversation with William Dalrymple

1:30PM-2:15PM: Book Launch – Through a Feudal Window by Indrajit Singh Rathore

2:15PM-3:15PM: Conquering the Chaos : Empowering the Future – Yashwant Sinha, Ravi Venkatesan, Anand Kumar and Kumar Galhotra in conversation with Paranjoy Guha Thakurta

3:30PM-4:30PM: Black Holes, Worm Holes and Time Machines – Jim al Khalili, moderated by Marcus du Sautoy

4:30PM-5:00PM: Book Launch – Jaipur: Gem in India by Dr D K Taknet

5:00PM-6:00PM: Each Other’s Stories – Ekta Kapoor in conversation with Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi

MUGHAL TENT

10:00AM-11:00AM; Bright Young Things Of the Jazz Age – Lara Feigel, Sarah Churchwell and Nicholas Shakespeare in conversation

11:15AM-12:15PM: The Blue God: Conversations on Krishna – Kaajal Oza Vaidya with Meghnad Desai in conversation with Pavan Varma

12:30PM-1:30PM: Elephants in the Room: India and its Neighbours – Manjushree Thapa, K Anis Ahmed, Ahmad Rafay Alam, Lily Wangchhuk in conversation with Neelam Deo

1:30PM-2:15PM: Launch of Crime Writers Association of South Asia

2:15PM-3:15PM: Pompeii: The Life of Roman Times – Mary Beard, introduced by Barnaby Rogerson

3:30PM-4:30PM: The Political Imagination – Ritu Menon, Kalyani Shankar, Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay and Rani Shankar Dass in conversation

5:00PM-6:00PM: Sex and the Citadel – Shireen el Feki, moderated by Sahar Delijani

DURBAR HALL

10:00AM-11:00AM: The age of wonder/The Victorians – Readings: Richard Holmes and A.N Wilson introduced by Jonathan Shainin

11:15AM-12:15PM: Ek Vachan, Bahu Vachan – Manisha Kulshreshtha, Piyush Daiya introduced by Vartika Nanda

12:30PM-1:30PM: Sacred Games/ Blind Man’s Garden – Vikram Chandra, Nadeem Aslam, introduced by Supriya Nair

2:15PM-3:15PM: Death in a cold climate – John Lier Horst, Bina Ramani, Bhaichand Patel in conversation with Somnath Batabyal

3:30PM-4:30PM: Two Typewriters – Readings: John Ralston Saul and Adrienne Clarkson in conversation with Jonathan Shainin

5:00PM-6:00PM: The world’s in our hand – K Anis Ahmed, Esther Syiem, introduced by Meru Gokhale

BAITHAK

10:00AM-11:00AM: Nine Faces of Being – Anita Nair in conversation with Somnath Batabyal- Book Launch of Idris – Keeper of the Light

11:15AM-12:15PM: The Living Goddess – Isabella Tree introduced by Vidya Dehejia

12:30PM-1:30PM: A Fish Caught in Time- The Search for the Coelacanth – Samantha Weinberg introduced by Samanth Subramanian

2:15PM-3:15PM: The Language of Laughter – Indrajit HazraShovon Chowdhury, moderated by Bachi Karkaria

3:30PM-4:30PM: Vijaynagar: The City of Victory – George Michell on Vijaynagar. Introduced by William Dalrymple

5:00PM-6:00PM: Poetry Wallahs – Rukmini Bhaya Nair, Margaret Mascarenhas, Salma, and Bejan Matur moderated by Rahul Soni

CHAR BAGH

10:00AM-11:00AM: Blue Planet, Green Earth – Shekhar Pathank, Suman Sahai in conversation with Ahmad Rafay Alam

11:15AM-12:15PM: The Seige – Adrian Levy moderated by Barkha Dutt

12:30PM-1:30PM: Khalnayak – Javed Akhtar, introduced by Kishwar Desai

2:15PM-3:15PM: Footloose – Nicholas Shakespeare, Isabella Tree, Robyn Davidson, Cheryl Strayed, moderated by William Dalrymple

3:30PM-4:30PM: Ogres and Others – Anita Nair, Anand Neelakantan, Ipsita Roy Chakraverti, in conversation with Arshia Sattar

5:00PM-6:00PM: The Great Gatsby – Sarah Churchwell in conversation with Chiki Sarkar

JANUARY 21, TUESDAY

FRONT LAWNS

10:00AM-11:00AM: The Coup – Samantha Weinberg and Michael Axworthy, moderated by Oscar Guardiola-Rivera

11:15AM-12:15PM: Pulling her Punches – Mary Kom

12:30PM-1:30PM: Coleridge and the Ancient Mariner – Richard Holmes, moderated by Rupleena Bose

1:30PM-2:15PM Book Launch – Nav matdata – Ek Rajnaitik Prayog Ki Anubhav Yatra, by Jyoti Kiran

2:15PM-3:15PM: We the Drowned: Writing the Sea – Carsten Jensen, Samantha Weinberg, and Nayomi Munaweera, moderated by Samanth Subramanium

3:30PM-4:30PM: On the post colonial couch – Nadifa Mohamad, Tash Aw, Romesh Gunesekara, Maaza Mengiste, moderated by Rana Dasgupta

5:00PM-6:00PM: Debate – Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the rest

MUGHAL TENT

10:00AM-11:00AM: Reimaging Partition – Vishwajyoti Ghosh, Ahmad Rafay Alam, Urvashi Butalia, in conversation with Indrajit Hazra

11:15AM-12:15PM: Ornamentalism: How the British saw their Empire – David Cannadine in conversation with Maya Jasanoff

12:30PM-1:30PM: Geographies of Reading: Contexting the Indian Reader – Vivek Tejuja, Aditi Maheshwari, R Sivapriya, in conversation with Mita Kapoor

1:30PM-2:15PM: Book Launch – Traveling in, Traveling out: Namita Gokhale, Urvashi Butalia, Ipsita Roy Chakraverti

2:15PM-3:15PM: Spice : History of a temptation – Jack Turner introduced by Mary Beard

DURBAAR HALL

10:00AM-11:00AM: Colours of Longing – Readings: K R Meera, Anuradha Sharma Pujari, introduced by Aditi Maheshwari

11:15AM-12:15PM: Pointing from beyond the grave – Samantha Weinberg introduced by Jonathan Shainin

12:30PM-1:30PM: Red blooms in the forest – Readings: Nilima Sinha, Ipsita Roy Chakraverti introduced by Vamsee Juluri

2:15PM-3:15PM: Rogerson’s Book of Numbers – Readings: Barnaby Rogerson introduced by Marcus Du Sautoy

3:30PM-4:30PM: The Mythologists – Readings: Anand Neelakantan and Vamsee K Juluri introduced by Aditi Maheshwari

BAITHAK

10:00AM-11:00AM: Harvest – Jim Crace in conversation with Chandrahas Choudhury

11:15AM-12:15PM: Navras – Yatindra Mishra, T S Luthra, Arjun Deo Charan, Sawai Singh Shekhawat, Kaajal Oza Vaidya and Neerav Patel. Moderated by Vartika Nanda

12:30PM-1:30PM: The Traveller’s Tree: The Travel Writing of Patrick Leigh Fermor – Artemis Cooper, introduced by William Dalrymple

2:15PM-3:15PM: Jaipur Gharana – Ashok Vajpeyi, Prerna Shrimali and Dr Madhu Bhatt Telang, in conversation with Yatindra Mishra and Vibhas Book Launch

3:30PM-4:30PM: The Art of the Short Story – William Suttcliffe, Vikram Chandra, Joseph O’Neill, Rivka Galchen moderated by Philip Hensher

CHAR BAGH

11:15AM-12:15PM: Imagining the Past – The Art of the Historical Novel – Jim Crace, Otto De Kat, Alison Macleod, Tash Aw, and Justin Cartwright in conversation with Philip Hensher

12:30PM-1:30PM: The Mirror of Beauty – S.R. Faruqi, Mehr Farooqi in conversation with Chandrahas Choudhury. Readings by Sahil Farooqi

2:15PM-3:15PM: The Writer’s Life – Artemis Cooper, Lara Feigel, A.N Wilson, Nicholas Shakespeare moderated by Sarah Churchwell

3:30PM-4:30PM: Is There an Indian Way of Thinking – John Elliott, Geetanjali Shree , Pavan Varma in conversation with Ashok Vajpeyi

Interviewing authors

Interviewing authors

John Freeman, How to read a novelistRead. Read. Read. Read.

The mantra that most writers suggest is the best way to hone one’s craft. The same holds true for reviewers, publishing professionals and anyone else in this profession of letters. In order to improve the skill one seeks to excel at, it is best to read as much as possible. Yet there is always more to learn about an author. Usually a good interviewer creates a portrait of the author that is deftly written and sharp in its analysis of their writing. ( It is fascinating to observe the interviewer being influenced by the writer, evident in the style of writing, the form the interview takes shape and at times even in the vocabulary.) With the internet becoming a repository of information about authors, their lives and anything else of remote interest to them and being at times to connect with contemporary authors in real time via social media platforms, the need to publish a book of author interviews seems to be futile. Having said that I have thoroughly enjoyed reading How to Read a Novelist by John Freeman and British Muslim Fictions by Claire Chambers. Two exquisite collections of excellent interviewers engaging with authors. In a matter of few pages they are able to introduce the author, give a bit of personal history (if required and relevant to the interview), a perspective on their oeuvre and highlight at least one essential aspect of the author that makes their writing unique. When John Freeman interviews Sarajevo-born, now settled in Chicago, Aleksandar Hemon, Freeman observes: ‘Hemon has been widely praised for the unexpected images this style creates, but it was not, he says, the hallmark of a deliberate, honed, and in some cases mapped out. “I wanted to write with intense sensory detail, to bring a heightened state.” He is a sentence writer who counts beats as a poet does syllables.’ (p.134) Or what he has to say of Michael Ondaatje — “Genres bleed between books in Ondaatje’s work.” Or about E. L. Doctorow that “his novels don’t read like researched books but restored originals, recently rediscovered.” Similarly Claire Chambers too has wonderful insights about the authors she meets whether it is Nadeem Aslam, Kamila Shamsie, Aamer Hussein or Mohsin Hamid to name some of them. The hard work that both John Freeman and Claire Chambers put into familiarize themselves with the authors is masked so well that each interview seems to effortlessly done. Yet it is obvious that considerable thought has gone into the preparation for every interview. They seem to be acutely aware of not being “over-prepared”, instead focusing on having “an actual conversation with all the unpredictability and freshness of a good one”. British Muslim Fictions

The beauty of each interview is that there is something for every reader to glean—it could be a person discovering an author for the first time or of a reader familiar with the author being interviewed. There is a restraint and a respect that each interviewer has for their author that shines through every profile. It also helps achieve the fine balance of the professional and personal dimensions of an author being presented without it seeming to be voyeuristic. Just enough of the authors personal lives, descriptions of their homes or even of their peculiar habits, such as Kazuo Ishiguro never likes to discuss what he is writing till he is done with it. These are two books worth buying, treasuring, reading for pleasure, to ponder over and if a student of creative writing, essential reading.

Women writingWhile reading these books, there were two other books from India that I recalled — Just Between Us: Women speak about their writing and The Big Bookshelf . Books published a long time ago, but continue to be relevant since they too consist of author interviews. The Big Bookshelf is based upon the years of experience Sunil Sethi had as host of NDTV’s Just Books. (http://profit.ndtv.com/videos/watch-just-books)  It ran for many years to finally end in summer of 2013. All though in October 2013, the state television channel, Doordarshan, launched a books programme called Kitabnama:Books and More. ( Link to episode 2:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPCp8QyqAD4 ) It is a weekly programme, designed and curated by author Namita Gokhale. ( She is also one of the directors of the Jaipur Literature Festival.) Sunil Sethi

 

“Of mothers and others” edited by Jaishree Misra

“Of mothers and others” edited by Jaishree Misra

of mothers and others: stories, essays and poems

This is a collection of essays, some fiction and some poetry published in support of Save the Children. All by women except for one, which is by Jai Arjun Singh on the mother in cinema. Even the editors of Zubaan, Urvashi and Anita have contributed essays. The other contributors include Kishwar Desai, Shashi Deshpande, Tishani Doshi, Namita Gokhale, Sarita Madanna, Smriti Lamech, Shinie Antony etc. All the women discuss their experiences of motherhood — expecting, crankiness about mothering, time taken away from professional space and intellectual sustenance, adopting children, bereavement, becoming mothers to differently-abled children and on being motherless out of choice. Or being grandmothers, loving your grandchildren, smothering them with affection without having to be responsible for their upbringing and all that comes with the every second to second engagement of rearing a kid as the delightful Bulbul Sharma is to her brood of five grandchildren. But when her descendants complain, “why must you travel so much? All nanis should stay at home.” Bulbul Sharma agrees that at one time the nanis and dadis did stay at home. But now “the new generation of grandmothers work, travel and play golf. They attend board meetings and fight cases. …but they are still grandmothers at heart.”

The other day I met an old college friend after years. She lives abroad and visits India infrequently. She has a daughter who is 13 months older to Sarah. Naturally we were watching our daughters wander through the park, chase butterflies and watch the gorgeous flowers blooming and chatting, you know the conversation which skirts or suddenly revs into top gear with both women talking rapidly at the same time, exchanging information and surprisingly assimilating it too, all the time multi-tasking too. Suddenly my friend says, you know it is incredible what a sense of freedom you get when the kid learns how to clean herself. It is a moment of sheer independence –maybe more for the mother than the kid. As Shashi Deshpande says “what really overwhelmed me was the way my entire life had been taken away from me by the baby and his needs. There was no space left for anything else.” It’s so true!!! Some things never change.

This collection of essays and poems is worth reading. The most powerful essay has to be Manju Kapur grieving for the loss of her 21-year-old daughter in a tragic car accident, twenty years ago. Some of the others are Sarita Madanna’s short story, “the gardener’s daughter” and Shalini Sinha’s essay about the relationship between her mother/nani with her son/grandson who had been born with Down’s syndrome. As always Urvashi Butalia when she writes is very readable. Her essay on being childless dwells upon not having had a biological daughter (and comments upon the relationships other mother-daughter duos have) but she does not mention how as a professional she has/is been a mentor to many, nurtured fledglings much like a mother would do with her offspring.

This book has been making its presence felt given the high profile launch at Jaipur Literature Festival 2013 when well known film actress Shabana Azmi released it. At the Delhi launch of the book, Bollywood actress Nandita Das while holding her son on her hip, released it in Delhi. In today’s day and age having celebrities being associated with a book does wonders for it. But after closing this book (which may I add I read in one sitting) I thought that the contributors raised some very valid questions on the “naturalness” of motherhood and other popular social canards, what left me very concerned was that except for Anita Roy, no one commented upon the importance of nutrition and by extension, the importance of self-preservation of the mom. I say this advisedly since late last year Zubaan co-published a book of essays with a Delhi-based NGO, Cequin. (Cequin amongst many of its activities runs nutrition camps for the urban poor women. A very good initiative since it teaches them how to create a balanced diet within their budgets.) What I found most alarming was that the women were being taught how to stretch a small portion of milk (given its spiraling price )to give maximum nutrition to their families. Maybe a short comment could have been included from the Cequin team too?

Of Mothers and Others: Stories, Essays and Poems (ed. Jaishree Misra). Foreword by Shabana Azmi. (Zubaan, New Delhi, 2013). Hb. pp.286. Rs. 495.

<strong>Mind your words: Who decides what we should read?</strong>

Mind your words: Who decides what we should read?

Mind your words: Who decides what we should read?

The Jaipur Literature Festival 2012 did not slink by unnoticed. It is a literary extravaganza which reaches out to the masses, rather than being reserved for the upper echelons of society or the intelligentsia. Everybody is welcome to mingle and rub shoulders with the glitterati of literature. It is easy to spot Gulzar, along with Tom Stoppard or as this year proved, even Oprah! The one event that overshadowed the entire festival and its rumbles continue to be heard even now, was the controversy surrounding Salman Rushdie’s presence — will he, won’t he come was the question on everyone’s lips. What were the legal repercussions for the four writers—Amitava Kumar, Jeet Thayil, Hari Kunzro and Ruchir Joshi — who attempted to read out passages from Satanic Verses? When it was finally announced that Rushdie will not attend in person, but will address the gathering via a video conference, it was little consolation. But then that too was scuttled, leaving a fuming Rushdie having to address a television audience later that evening, via a link up with NDTV.

Curiously the ban on Satanic Verses is a customs ban that does not allow the book to be imported into the country. The larger question then left for everyone to tussle with – was this a form of censorship? Are we not at a liberty to read what we like? Do we have the freedom to read what we like? Or shall there be those who sit in judgment upon what we can or should not read? Questions that are not always easy to answer. It has spawned various forms of protests, signing of online petitions to most notably “flash reads” which included reading passages from works on 14 Feb – the day, 23 years ago, when the fatwa against Rushdie was announced. Plus a day in that has in recent times become synonymous with the harassment inflicted upon young lovers by vigilantes, based upon the absurd argument that Valentine’s Day is a Western intrusion upon Indian culture. According to Salil Tripathi, one of the participants of flash reads, it was organized “at different locations in five cities, Bangalore, Kochi, Kolkata, Mumbai and New Delhi, about a hundred people—readers, writers, artists, engineers, lawyers, professionals, students, and consultants—came with sheets filled with words and ideas that someone somewhere wanted suppressed. We were at Lodhi Gardens, on the bridge overlooking the duck pond, in the shadow of the ruins of another era, where writers who defied the state and those in power often met a ghastly end.”

But bear in mind the reception to a book in different countries. In Germany, more than sixty years after World War II is over, Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf is a banned text. It is not available in bookstores. If anyone wishes to read it, it can only be accessed by special permission, providing a valid reason, from a library. Unlike in India, where for many years it is a bestseller. It is always amongst the most popular titles in pirated editions, and only recently has begun to be visible in bookstores. It is available in English and other regional languages.
Today, India is the largest democracy in the world, but it is also considered to be a large book market, with a voracious appetite in print and electronic formats and in any language, not just English. Controversies like those surrounding Satanic Verses open larger debates like pertaining to censorship, how far can one go without hurting the religious sentiments of another group, the impact of such an action on institutions and of course being responsible for the consequences of one’s action — is it to be those who are the catalysts of such change or the festival that inadvertently provided a platform for these readings? With the Internet, many of these bans become counter-productive as exemplified by Oscar-nominated director Ashvin Kumar who uploaded his latest film, Inshallah, Kashmir: Living Terror, on 26 Jan 2012, within 24 hours, he struck 50,000 views. In Dec 2011, it was estimated that India is the third largest Internet user population in the world, with over 120 million users. So it is ironical there is such a hullaballo around Satanic Verses being read in public, since the entire text is available online.

(This article was first published in Books & More, April-May 2012, p.58

Jaya Bhattacharji Rose is an international publishing and literary consultant. She may be contacted at jayabhattacharjirose@gmail.com Her twitter handle is @JBhattacharji

The business of literary festivals

The business of literary festivals

The question most often asked these days in the literary world and beyond is, “Are you going to Jaipur?” I know of authors, publishers, agents, aspiring writers and even friends who have nothing whatsoever to do with literature (not even to read a book) heading off to the Pink City. The attraction ranges from seeing authors “in the flesh” to gawking at talk-show celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey. That said, I wonder how many would actually know what a phenomenal impact Oprah’s Book Club had on book sales in America — termed as the Oprah effect. She single-handedly recommended books that she enjoyed reading on The Oprah Winfrey Show. It is estimated that the 69 books she recommended over a 15-year period, saw the sale of 55 million units. But as with popular literary spaces, she too has had her fair share of controversies. Most notably being of her recommending James Frey’s memoir, A Million Little Pieces, only for it to be revealed that the book was a complete hoax, but that is another story.

Literary festivals are spaces to have a great time — good conversation, plenty of ideas swirling about, good company, especially if accompanied by good weather, food and facilities. What more can one ask of a long weekend break? It is a mela time to listen to panelists, to be able to ask questions directly of one’s favourite authors and discover new ones. It is also a space that provides opportunities for aspiring writers to contact publishers, word-doctors, and literary agents. Rohini Chowdhury, author and freelance editor says, “I think literary festivals serve an important function in providing writers and publishers a platform on which they can come together, particularly writers who often need the visibility. It also provides them with a sense of community and turn into exclusive clubs.” William Dalrymple, director, Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF), says when he gets invited to international literary festivals as an author, he is always on the lookout for new voices or to connect with established names. It is easier to do it over breakfast than send off an impersonal email request.

A Costly Affair
But there is no such thing as a free lunch. It is never clear from the media stories that bear the cost of putting up this extravaganza. Often the stories are about celebrities attending a festival, the political and literary controversies surrounding some participants (it helps to pull in the crowds!), but rarely about the investments involved. At most there will be references to “breaking even”, but hardly any numbers are mentioned. Yet, there is a cost, and a substantial one at that to the organisers of the festival: financial and human resources and infrastructure. There is also a cost to the city that hosts the festival; although, both parties stand to gain in the long run.

Internationally, festivals are ticketed and are not the norm in India. (This is set to change with JLF announcing modestly-priced tickets for the musical events this year.) The income from ticket sales is rarely enough to cover costs of producing a festival — in fact, it is not even close, probably only 15 per cent of the total budget. So donations and sponsorship end up paying most of the costs. In addition to these, corporate sponsorship and individual donations are incredibly important to enable the literature festivals to run. A great deal of time is spent developing proposals, targeting potential sponsors (including big businessmen, bankers and financiers), sending out those proposals and following up. A festival director can send out 50 or more proposals and get only 5 or 10 responses most of which are polite rejections. Most people who generally do respond are those that already know the core team, especially the festival director’s work, so one needs to spend a great deal of time making and developing contacts. Add to this are other “hidden” costs that involve huge amounts of labour and are not easily quantified. They include planning and organising the events, particularly bearing in mind the ratio of local to international authors, as well as the linguistic ratios; keeping abreast of backlists and forthcoming titles; networking with publishers and authors; and putting together a judicious mix of ideas and entertainment. Also important are building confidence amongst participants and audience, timing the participation of authors if they are going to be in town (it helps to have information in advance as it differs the costs of running the festival). Additional costs to be factored are an honorarium or an appearance fee to be paid, especially to the star performers; organising cultural events where the artistes are paid their fee; media and publicity; salaries of the staff (permanent and volunteers); rent of the space; catering at the venue; transport and accommodation; and infrastructure. In fact, every person who walks in has a cost — registration tags (electronic or bar-coded), brochures, chair, and a system to buy a book. According to Adriene Loftus Parkins, Founder/Director of the Asia House Festival of Asian Literature, “I think it’s fair to say that no one realistically goes into this business to make a lot of money. It is very important that we raise enough to cover costs, so that we can pay our suppliers and keep going, but we are running a festival for reasons other than profit. I rarely have the funds to produce the kind of festival I’d ideally like to and to do the marketing and PR that I feel I need, so I do the best I can with what I have.”Fundraising is a crucial aspect of organising a literary festival. An efficient team will stick to the budget and realise it is organic. Part of the fundraising is in kind – offering accommodation, free air tickets, conveyance, sponsoring a meal or an event. If it is in cash, then it is by networking with businesses, financiers, cultural and arts agencies like the British Council, Literature Across Frontiers, multi-national corporations etc. But it is crucial to find the relevant links between the festival being organised and the agency’s mandate. For instance, the British Council literature team promotes UK’s writers, poets and publishers to communities and audiences around the world, developing innovative, high-quality events and collaborations that link writers, publishers and cultural institutions. Recent projects include the Erbil Literature Festival, the first international literature festival ever to be held in Iraq; the Karachi Literature Festival; and a global partnership with Hay Festivals that has seen UK writers travel to festivals in Beirut, Cartagena, Dhaka, Kerala Nairobi, Segovia and Zacatecas amongst others. This ongoing work with partners helps provide the opportunity for an international audience to experience the excitement of the live literature scene in the UK. And for businesses it is a direct investment into the community. According to image guru Dilip Cherian of Perfect Relations, “Corporates find that they can reach otherwise with Lit Fests. It’s also an audience that captures influentials who otherwise have little space for corporate Branding. The danger though is that literary festivals may be going the way of Polo…Money too easily caught, could stifle the plot.”

The Host City Makes Hay
The business model of a literary festival depends upon who is it for — the city or the festival. According to The Edinburgh Impact Study released in May 2011, the Edinburgh “Festivals generated over a quarter of a billion pounds worth of additional tourism revenue for Scotland (£261 million) in 2010. The economic impact figure for Edinburgh is £245 million. Plus the festivals play a starring role in the profile of the city and its tourism economy, with 93 per cent of visitors stating that the festivals are part of what makes Edinburgh special as a city, 82 per cent agreeing that the festivals make them more likely to revisit Edinburgh in the future. The study calculates that Edinburgh’s festivals generate £261 million for the national economy and £245 million for the Edinburgh economy. To put this in to context, the most recent independent economic impact figure for Golf Tourism to Scotland is £191million. The festivals also sustain 5,242 full-time equivalent jobs. Although the festivals enjoy over 4 million attendances every year, the lion’s share of additional, non-ticket visitor expenditure is attributable to beneficiary businesses, such as hotels and retailers. 37 per cent (or £41 million) goes to accommodation providers, 34 per cent to food and drink establishments, 6 per cent to retailers and 9 per cent is spent on transport.”

Says Peter Florence, director, Hay-on-Wye Festivals: “We have done a hundred and fifty festivals over 25 years around the world. Just when you think you know how to do them, a new googly comes at you. The fun of it is working out how to play every delivery… .” He adds that since story telling is the basis for festival, they are open to exploring good writing in any form. Songwriters, comedians, philosophers, screenwriters and even journalists are treated with the same respect as are poets and novelists. It is all about great use of language. He clarifies that “We aren’t in business. We are a not a for-profit educational trust. We are the only part of the publishing-reading chain that is not out to make money. We simply aim to break-even and keep costs as low as possible.” Festivals grow only if the participants have a good time there. There has to be a word-of-mouth publicity for the festivals to get popular.

Frankly, it is very difficult to say that there is one clear business model for a literary festival. It changes from region to region. Yet it is obviously growing, otherwise why else would Harvard Business School be doing a case study on the Jaipur Literature Festival that is being studied over two semesters.

Jaya Bhattacharji Rose is an international publishing consultant and critic
She can be contacted on jayabhattacharjirose@gmail.com. Follow Jaya on Twitter @JBhattacharji
(This article was first published in my column in Businessworld online on 17 January 2012.)

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