JLF Posts

JLF 2017 Preview

My article on the preview for JLF 2017 was published on Bookwitty.com on 30 December 2016.)

Get Ready for the 10th Anniversary of the Jaipur Literature Festival  - Image 1

The first time I attended the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) at Diggi Palace Grounds, Jaipur it was small enough so that once could drive the car straight up to the main steps of the building. Today, the parking is a fair distance from the palace and the only way to reach the venue is through multiple barricades and a screening counter. Once inside though, there is a wonderful, festive air with an explosion of colours in the décor, the happy buzz of excited people milling about and conversations streaming through various marquees. Termed one of the greatest literary events, it is also a free one. Since it began, the JLF has welcomed 846,000 visitors, 1874 speakers, conducted 1272 sessions and partnered with more than 1400 organisations.

The JLF is also crucial because it is situated in a geographical space that is at the heart of a significant book market. It is planned soon after the Christmas break and a few months after the Frankfurt Book Fair (FBF) so publishing professionals flying in from around the world can follow up on their FBF conversations and combine them with a holiday in India.

In January 2017, it will be the 10th anniversary of the Jaipur Literature Festival. The three directors since its inception are Sanjoy Roy, Namita Gokhale and William Dalrymple. The festival has evolved over the years to include different elements such as Jaipur BookMark – a B2B platform for publishers, a children’s section and a cultural event every evening. The Festival has expanded internationally to host annual events at London’s Southbank Centre (2014 onwards) and Boulder, Colorado (2015 onwards). In 2017 the Jaipur BookMark will launch a new scheme to support emerging writers and budding authors are invited to apply for a New Writers’ Mentorship Programme: The First Book Club.

The Festival has celebrated and hosted writers from across the globe, ranging from Nobel Laureates and Man Booker Prize winners to debut writers, including Amish Tripathi, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Eleanor Catton, Hanif Kureishi, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Ian McEwan, JM Coetzee, Margaret Atwood, Mohammed Hanif, Oprah Winfrey, Orhan Pamuk, Pico Iyer, Salman Rushdie, Stephen Fry, Thomas Piketty, Vikram Seth and Wole Soyinka, as well as renowned Indian language writers such as Girish Karnad, Gulzar, Javed Akhtar, MT Vasudevan Nair, Uday Prakash, the late Mahasweta Devi and U.R. Ananthamurthy.

Get Ready for the 10th Anniversary of the Jaipur Literature Festival  - Image 2

This January, the Jaipur Literature Festival expects to welcome over 250 authors, thinkers, politicians, journalists, and popular culture icons to Jaipur. Sanjoy Roy said “Our prime focus is on history of the world, given that it was the 70 years of India’s Independence [in 2016]. In a new collaboration with the British Library they have loaned us a version of the 1215 AD Magna Carta which will be on view at Diggi Palace. A series of sessions on freedom to dream will look at inspiration for the future. We have a new partnership with The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) that will look at sessions on art and migration.”

Namita Gokhale added that at the JLF “We are always trying to listen in as many languages as possible. This time there will be speakers from all over Europe and more than 20 Indian regional languages will be showcased.”

Controversies and the JLF also seem to go hand in hand. In 2012 Hari Kunzru, Ruchir Joshi, Amitava Kumar and Jeet Thayil read out passages from Salman Rushdie’s banned book The Satanic Verses and had to leave Jaipur hurriedly before the police arrived to arrest them. Another time the Shell oil company was one of the sponsors, which created a stir since, among other things, it is infamously associated with the tragic execution of Nigerian writer Ken Saro-Wiwa. At the time, the JLF administration said they do not look at the color of money. This year too, there is disappointment already being expressed at representatives of the Hindu fundamentalist group RSS being invited to speak at JLF but as the organizers point out they stand for diversity.

Be that as it may, the 2017 edition of JLF promises to be as exciting as ever. The magnificent line-up of authors includes Paul Beatty, Alan Hollinghurst, Valmik Thapar, Amruta Patil, AN Wilson, Alice Walker, Mark Haddon, Ajay Navaria, Mrinal Pande, Richard Flanagan, Arshia Sattar, Arefa Tehsin, Eka Kurniawan, Tahmima Anam, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Marcos Giralt Torrente, Kyoko Yoshida, David Hare, Margo Jefferson, Deborah Smith, Jeremy Paxman, Hyeonseo Lee, Francesca Orsini, John Keay, Jon Wilson, Kate Tempest, Mihir S. Sharma, Neil MacGregor, Rishi Kapoor, Sholeh Wolpé, Sunil Khilnani, and Vivek Shanbhag. Sessions have been planned on translations, revisiting history, conflict, politics, memoirs, biographies, nature, poetry, spirituality, mythmaking, women writing, travel writing, freedom of expression, children’s literature and book releases.

Some of the prominent sessions are:

Writing the Self: The Art of Memoir: Bee Rowlatt, Brigid Keenan Emma Sky and Hyeonseo Lee in conversation with Samanth Subramanian

Lost in Translation: Francesca Orsini, Deborah Smith, Paulo Lemos Horta and Sholeh Wolpé in conversation with Adam Thirlwell

Migrations: Lila Azam Zanganeh, NoViolet Bulawayo, Sholeh Wolpé and Valzhyna Mort in conversation with Tishani Doshi

The Tamil Story: Imayam Annamalai and Subhashree Krishnaswamy in conversation with Sudha Sadhanand

In Search of a Muse: On Writing Poetry: Anne Waldman, Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir, Ishion Hutchinson, Kate Tempest, Tishani Doshi and Vladimir Lucien in conversation with Ruth Padel

Lost Kingdoms: The Hindu and Buddhist Golden Age in South East Asia: John Guy introduced by Kavita Singh

Before We Visit the Goddess: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni in conversation with Shrabani Basu

Kohinoor: Anita Anand and William Dalrymple introduced by Swapan Dasgupta

The Dishonourable Company: How the East India Company Took Over India: Giles Milton, John Keay, Jon Wilson, Linda Colley and Shashi Tharoor in conversation with William Dalrymple

Brexit: A.N. Wilson, Andrew Roberts,, Linda Colley, Surjit Bhalla and Timothy Garton Ash in conversation with Jonathan Shainin

Rewriting History: The Art of Historical Fiction: Adam Thirlwell, Alan Hollinghurst and Shazia Omar in conversation with Raghu Karnad

Civil Wars: From Antiquity to ISIS: David Armitage introduced by Raghu Karnad

The Biographer’s Ball: A.N. Wilson, Andrew Roberts, David Cannadine, Lucinda Hawksley, Roy Foster and Suzannah Lipscomb in conversation with Anita Anand

Ardor: On the Vedas: Roberto Calasso in conversation with Devdutt Pattanaik

Things to Leave Behind: Namita Gokhale in conversation with Mrinal Pande and Sunil Sethi

That Which Cannot be Said: Hyeonseo Lee, Kanak Dixit, Sadaf Saaz and Timothy Garton Ash and in conversation with Salil Tripathi

The Art of the Novel: On Writing Fiction: Adam Thirlwell, Alan Hollinghurst, NoViolet Bulawayo and Richard Flanagan in conversation with Manu Joseph

Footloose: The Travel Session: Aarathi Prasad, Bee Rowlatt, Brigid Keenan, Nidhi Dugar and Simon Winchester in conversation with William Dalrymple

The JLF 2017 will run from January 19-23rd.

    Some links from JLF 2013 and 2014, worth revisiting

    Some links from JLF 2013 and 2014, worth revisiting

    JLF logoHere are some links from the Jaipur Literature Festival 2013 and 2014 available on YouTube that I have enjoyed watching. Enjoy! 

    17 June 2014

    The Interpreter of Stories ( Jhumpa Lahiri) : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4EMURLpvgwU
    The Global Novel ( Jim Crace, Franzen, Chandrahas Choudhary, Jhumpa Lahiri, Xiao Lau, Tayie Selasi etc) : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_BqqA0xnpI
    The age of wonder/ The Victorians : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7sMKfN0gyXs 
     
     
     
     
    Jesus the Man, Jesus the Politician : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bb5Zoy-HV58 
     
    Rogerson’s Book of Numbers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4tgMx9R4yU 
     
    Love and War: Literature, Danger and Passion in the WWII : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2mrHmn4NN20 
     
     
    The traveller’s tree: Patrick Leigh Fermor : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EutBDe-8cHE 
     
    Storytelling around the world : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVzF1QJXko0 
     
    JLF 2013 
     
     
    Who will rule the world? : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rI-rTEFMdR4 
     
    Restless Women : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kcXsvlRdeoM  (women trekkers) 
     
     
    PubSpeak, “Rules Of Publishing: Be On The Move”There has to be serendipity in publishing. It is the smarter way of keeping the ecosystem alive,

    PubSpeak, “Rules Of Publishing: Be On The Move”There has to be serendipity in publishing. It is the smarter way of keeping the ecosystem alive,

    Jaya Bhattacharji Rose ( The latest edition of my column, PubSpeak, has been uploaded on BusinessWorld online today. The link is http://www.businessworld.in/news/economy/rules-of-publishing-be-on-the-move/1246485/page-1.html. I am also c&p the text below. )

    Bloomberg journalist Brad Stone’s ‘The Everything Store’ is about Jeff Bezos and his baby, Amazon. After the book was published, Bezos distanced himself from the book. Significantly his wife, MacKenzie Bezos, gave the book a one-star rating on Amazon saying it contains “numerous factual inaccuracies” and is “full of techniques which stretch the boundaries of non-fiction”. The book is based on a number of interviews that Stone conducted with Bezos, his staff and ex-colleagues to get a sense of the firm. What is very clear after reading the book is that Amazon is significant because it has the advantage of being a first mover, it is a game-changer, certainly for publishing.

    There are three points worth considering:

    1. Bezos was the first to exploit the potential of the internet and collaborate with start ups with new ideas. For instance, his acquisition of a firm that specialised in digital books, with the .mobi format, resulted in his insistence on making the files uploaded on Kindle to be DRM protected.

    2. He knew that sales ranks would be like a drug to authors, so he insisted that it change whenever a new order came in: thus influencing the gradual shift in publishing houses laying more emphasis on marketing and promotional activities than on editing and commissioning. (Whereas it cannot be an either/or situation, it has to be a combination.)

    3. Finally Bezos’s famous analogy of comparison that publishing firms are like gazelles and Amazon is a cheetah. This belief was integral to his strategy in agency pricing. He had to persuade publishers to give him the digital files to the books they published. (It required time since many publishers discovered that they did not have the rights to the digital formats from the authors.) He was convinced marking the books at such a low price was rational since there were no printing and warehousing costs involved — a misconception that has come to be associated with the entire system of publishing. But Amazon is able to achieve much of this due to the ‘technological moat’ it has dug for itself, that is, of low margins. It ensures that with the creative vision Bezos and his team have they are able to expand their business into uncharted domains, effectively keeping competition out.

    At BookMark, the B2B space for publishing professionals at the Jaipur Literature Festival there were a number of fascinating conversations about the business. Most significantly the resistance in original publishing to digital and the disruption it would cause in the publishing ecosystem was no longer making news. The presence of technology to facilitate, produce and disseminate books is now an accepted norm. It is here to stay. It was interesting to see how the industry was responding to the rapid changes taking place in the environment, necessitating a rapid pace of evolution by adapting and adopting new methods.

    Take Penguin Random House CEO John Makinson’s comment at the event, for instance. The coming together of Penguin and Random House was a “strategically delivered merger” since it was the only combination that changed the game, said Makinson. He was confident that the industry would consolidate itself in a bit of time. At a time when the global industry is reeling from the massive presence of Amazon, the formation of Penguin Random House catapults it to the first position with 25 per cent share of the global market. In October 2013, Jüergen Boos, Director, Frankfurt Book Fair, at the opening of the fair, warned that companies like Amazon, Apple and Google were “logistics magicians but are not publishers”. It stands to reason since online recommendations are purchase based and not behavioural. It does not tell you what people want to read since much of the online purchases are for gifts.

    There has to be serendipity in publishing. It is the smarter way of keeping the ecosystem alive, creating newer readers and shifting away slightly from being only a writer’s space.

    The overwhelming presence of Amazon, Google, and the iBook store of Apple and closer to home, Flipkart, has resulted in the “disturbing dominance of content” as John Makinson put it. It is inevitable that online retail platforms will require large volumes to remain sustainable. They are not discerning and curate content as booksellers are known to do with their stocks. So, it is fairly common to find on these websites second hand, and out-of-print books, or those titles that belong to backlists but are not readily available. In fact, Paul Yamazaki of City Light Booksellers and this year jury member, DSC South Asian Literature prize  is clear that he will retain titles on his shelves that are worth recommending, not necessary that it is the latest title creating waves in the media. City Light Books, is a landmark independent bookstore and publisher that specialises in world literature, the arts, and progressive politics. It was established by Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Peter D. Martin and synonymous with the ‘beatniks’.

    Of late, publishers have been a worried lot since their traditional forms of publishing are not giving them the benefits they have been used to; in addition the sales of ebooks have plateaued, falling far short of the forecasts. The reliance on frontlists is making publishers an anxious lot since author brands only work for a limited time and within a given framework. For instance, commercial fiction authors are a brand unto themselves, a specific market who only read the specific author, but do not guarantee sales with every title. Ever since publishing houses were established they relied on a formula of 80:20 where 20 per cent was reserved for experimentation or the mid-lists, to discover and nurture new writers, which sometimes became the bedrock of the future for the firm. This is now happening less and less. Instead it is easier to offer authors a contract once they have proven themselves in the market. Many new voices are being discovered via the self-publishing route and traditional firms recognising the business potential of this are offering self-publishing services. This is in trade publishing. But even in academic publishing, technological advances and the presence of agents such as Apple, Google and Amazon have had an impact. For instance, material in a digital form for classroom and assisted teaching, teacher resource material and even the rent-a-textbook model, like Coursemart, have proved to be successful.

    Among some of the other responses to the changing environment were that established businesses know the only way forward is to recognise that their expertise is limited; collaborations with new ideas or new startups is the only way to keep the business afloat; exploring a subscription service to deliver books/content to users/customers as indicated by the tie-up between Scribd and HarperCollins; looking to create a market beyond English-language readers (since it is a limited market), moving beyond viewing English as a functional, operational and legal language, translating content and creating a base of readers in the mother tongues to increase readership. The fact is that when markets are volatile and competing forces are at play and with 40 per cent of the population online it is not easy to forecast what will happen in the near future, save that a certain amount of realignments will happen through mergers and acquisitions, new systems will evolve and it will be survival of the fittest — big or small, who knows for now!

    6 Feb 2014 

    “Of war and peace”. Interview with Romesh Gunasekera, The Hindu, 2 Feb 2014

    “Of war and peace”. Interview with Romesh Gunasekera, The Hindu, 2 Feb 2014

    Jaya Bhattacharji Rose with Romesh Gunasekera, JLF, 2014(My interview with Romesh Gunasekera was uploaded on the Hindu Literary Review website on 1 Feb 2014 and published in the print edition on 2 Feb 2014. Here is the url to it: http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-literaryreview/of-war-and-peace/article5643819.ece I am c&p the entire text below. The review of the book, Noontide Toll, will be published in the first week of March 2014.  

    I met Romesh Gunasekera at the Jaipur Literature Festival 2014. The photograph was taken at the Penguin Random House reception on 17 Jan 2014. But this interview was conducted via email.) 

    Romesh Gunaseekera, interview

    Born in 1954, Romesh Gunesekera grew up in Sri Lanka and the Philippines before moving to England in 1972. His first novel, Reef , was shortlisted for both the Guardian Fiction Prize and the Booker Prize. In India recently to launch his latest collection of short stories Noontide Toll, Gunasekera took time out for an interview.

     1.    What was the gestation time for this book and how long did it take to write it? There is a reference to the killing of LTTE founder, Prabhakaran, so it seems to have been finished recently.  

    I started thinking about this book in 2009 but didn’t start writing it until 2010 after I had travelled around Sri Lanka and visited some of the places in the north that had been difficult to get to during the war. Most of it was written in 2012 but I only finished the final draft towards the end of last year. So the gestation was about 4 years and the actual writing and rewriting 2 years.

    2.    Why do you have a driver as a narrator?  

    Vasantha, the van driver, was a natural choice when I realized the story was going to involve journeys around the island. The appropriateness of the character grew as the metaphor of the road grew. A passenger on a road journey is in the hands of a driver; a reader embarking on a book is in the hands of a narrator. Vasantha is both.

    3. Why did you call the book Noontide Toll?

    The title has particular resonances at this point in time and also has some links in meaning and sound with the titles of my first two books: Monkfish Moonand Reef. As this book like those two has a strong Sri Lankan connection it seemed to be the right choice.

    4. The mode of a journey as the spine of a narrative are as old as the epics. Why did you choose this mode for Noontide Toll?

    The story of this book is the story of a journey from the past to the future. It is the journey the narrator Vasantha makes but it also the journey we all make as human beings. A journey through time. A story of being on the road seemed a natural way to tell the story of these times. Vasantha is trying to understand how we should live in a world that is fast-changing and has a difficult past. Whether we live in Sri Lanka, or Malaysia, or India, or Britain or America we face similar issues of understanding the road we are on, remembering the past that has made us and seeing the future we want.

    But in this book there is also a more specific reason. Vasantha is travelling to parts of his country that he has been unable to visit before because of the war that had been going on for nearly thirty years. So the journey was the way he would balance the north and south of his world.

    5. Can you talk about issues of war, memory, and language in relation to the book?

    The book is all about how we deal with memory. Vasantha is in a country that has seen a very long and bloody war. He wants to move on from that past and is trying to find the best way to do it. He doesn’t know how much of the past can be left behind and how much is a part of him. Language is the means by which we negotiate our relationship with time. For Vasantha language is a means of communication, of touching someone, and of remembering. All over the world, including in India, people are trying to grapple with the memory of conflicts, and trying to find a way in which language can help us understand history without being trapped in it.

    6. For a book that deals with war, “>Noontide Toll is surprisingly very calm and structured in its sentences. Is this how you composed it in the first draft or was it “refined” later?

    I believe if a sentence is to retain its strength over time it needs to be carefully made. In fiction the structure of sentences matter. In this book I have tried to make sure the narrative flows as naturally as possible, but that doesn’t just happen. It has to be made to happen.

    7. Is there a South Asian Literary identity?

    I have just been to a literary festival in Kolkata where there was an hour long discussion with a panel of writers on this subject. From that discussion it seemed as though there wasn’t a clear identity. Obviously there are ways in which you could identify some commonalities between South Asian writers but the problems begin from the moment you try to identify and define the terms e.g. who are South Asian writers? Those born in south Asia? Those who live in South Asia? Those who write about South Asia? Or those who are all three? The language used by the writer is perhaps the more important factor. People who study a wide range of writers would be in a better position to decide whether a geographical term is the best way to describe an identity. I think the idea of a specific geographic literary identity might be too restrictive and constraining to be helpful. I would like to think that South Asian literature (in whatever way it is defined) is as varied and surprising as any other kind of interesting literature.

    8. You  have been teaching creative writing for many years in Great Britain. Recently you have begun to collaborate on workshops in India as well. What would be your critical assessment of the writing pool/talent in India/South Asia?

    I’ve only run one workshop in India and that was in Kolkata last year. We had an excellent group in the workshop and although they were mostly from India we did have some international participants too. I couldn’t generalise from one course, but as far as I can tell there are plenty of aspiring writers and the ones I have come across have similar talents and ambitions as workshop participants I have worked with in many other countries around the world. The prospects for writing in India, and indeed in the region, are good. But then, surely, we all know that.

    2 Feb 2014

    Literary festivals in India, Brunch, Hindustan Times, 12 Jan 2014

    Literary festivals in India, Brunch, Hindustan Times, 12 Jan 2014

    Today my article on literary festivals of India has been published in the Brunch, Hindustan TimesThe title in print is called “Booked & Hooked” and online it is ” Your guide to litfests this season”Here is the link to the online version: http://www.hindustantimes.com/brunch/brunch-stories/your-guide-to-litfests-this-season/article1-1171368.aspx. Meanwhile I am c&p the longer version of the article published.) 

    Jaya Bhattacharji Rose

    “I attend literary festivals to meet authors, to see another dimension to their life, listen to the heated conversations, introduce my four-year-old twin sons to famous people, and inculcate a sense of reading culture in them,” says Umesh Dubey, first-generation entrepreneur who takes his family to attend the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) for the entire week.

    A literary festival can be defined as a space where writers and readers meet, usually an annual event in a city or as “literature in performance”. Must-have elements include panel discussions with a healthy mix of new and seasoned writers, Q&As with the audience, author signing sessions, workshops related to writing and publishing, book launches, bookstores, a food court, and entertainment in the evenings. And – hopefully also – intellectually stimulating conversations, a relaxed ambience, picturesque setting, good weather (no dry days!), and networking possibilities.

    In India, literary festivals came into vogue with the astounding success of Jaipur Literature Festival, which began in 2006 . The timing was right, soon after the Christmas holidays/ winter break, in January, when Rajasthan is a favourite tourist destination. To organise a festival in the Diggi Palace Grounds, chatting with authors most readers have only admired from afar while sipping the hot Diggi chai in earthen cups, basking in the warm winter sun, listening to crackling good conversations and at times heated debates, and as darkness descends, preparing to hear the musicians who will perform… it made for quite a heady experience. And if at any point you get weary of the crowds and the conversations, it is easy to step out for a jaunt as a tourist and explore Jaipur. This basic template has begun to be emulated across the country.

    jaiput-lit-festAccording to the Jaipur Litfest producer, Sanjoy Roy, the intention is to create “a democratic access system of first-come-first-seated where we treat everyone as our guests and do not make a fuss over VIPs. The colour and design create a sense of an Indian mela.” Of course prior to JLF, India did have a fair share of literary “festivals” like Ajeet Caur’s SAARC Literature Festivals, or those that were organised at the Sanskriti Anandgram in Delhi or even the early editions of the Katha festivals, but admittedly none were on a fabulous scale, nor were they open to the public. According to Maina Bhagat, director, Apeejay Kolkata Festival, “The city is the biggest player in the festival”.

    So what explains the runaway success of today’s literature festivals? Says poet K. Satchidanadan, “There is a whole urban and semi-urban middle class youth eager to meet authors and listen to them in a festive atmosphere. The publishers are interested in releasing their books there and having their authors on the platform. The authors are interested in meeting other authors and also readers. Cities also get to be on the literary map of India with such celebrations.” Ananth Padmanabhan, senior vice-president, sales, Penguin India, says, “With social media dominating mind space, festivals are a great place to sit back and connect readers to writers; such an engagement opportunity was lacking.” In fact, festival-hopping has resulted in a modern-day phenomenon of the festival junkie: People who move from festival to festival.

    Of late the Indian economy may have been in the doldrums but there is no denying that post-liberalisation, more and more people have disposable income, they do want to invest in culture and what better way than to make it a family outing? It is a democratic patronage of the arts. It is also a reflection of how much India is becoming a writing culture rather than a reading culture.

    Arshia Sattar, who through Sangam House organises Lekhana Literary Weekend  (an extension of the Sangam House international writers’ residency programme that is run outside Bangalore) and is also jury member, DSC Award for Literature 2014, says, “My concern is that we are moving further away from ‘literature’ and closer to writing. I think if we had fewer ‘festivals’ and if they had  a focus rather than being all things to all people (which is probably what their sponsors want in terms of ‘footfalls’) . . .we might see people stepping out to literary events with dedication.”

    Thomas Abraham, CEO, Hachette India, says, “There is not a single real benefit any festival brings to a publisher. And there are a number of cons – it costs a lot to get your author up there for almost no returns on investment, and zero promotional benefit. Yes, if you switch off the business aspect, for the audience it’s a great platform to see your favourite authors, and for authors a great platform to cross-commune with other writers. For editors it’s a good networking and ideas engagement opportunity. But in terms of sales or author brand building, go back to every single festival and put down the authors and their titles and see the impact of either media coverage or sales, and you’ll see not one has moved beyond their earlier levels. Some very successful (read great stage performances) sessions do result in immediate brisker sales at the venue bookshop, but even those are minimal – anything between 30 copies to 100 copies.” Adds Diya Kar Hazra, publisher, trade, Bloomsbury, “There are so many literary festivals these days – sometimes two or three in one city. The writer is expected to do more than just write these days – they blog, they tweet, they have pages on FB. They appear at festivals and events reading from their books and having conversations with fellow writers. The reader–writer relationship has changed, as a result. Authors are much more accessible than they ever were.”

    Author Shovon Chowdhury who released his debut novel, The Competent Authority, earlier this year says that attending literary festivals “feels good. You feel special. I’m not jaded yet, so I enjoy it. I also love meeting lots of interesting people, including some super-intelligent ones. It gives me a dose of much needed perspective and humility. Plus there’s free meals.”

    An attractive feature of a literary festival is the free entry. This requires the festival management to scour for private sponsors, funds and collaborations that will help in putting together the extravaganza and these could be either in money or in kind. In many case, corporate house are willing to assist with sponsorship for the brand visibility and media coverage. Recently tourism departments and state governments have partnered with festivals which is understandable given the positive impact festivals can have on the local economy. For instance, in a dipstick survey the JLF management did last year, it was estimated that approximately Rs 20 crores of additional spend could be attributed to JLF in Jaipur on account of accommodation, restaurant and shopping. Even this is set to change. The inaugural edition of the Pune International Literature Festival had ticketed entry. Comic Con too proposes to sell tickets in 2014.

    Much of the success of the festivals depends on the programme created, parallel sessions, selection of the moderators and if necessary, themes selected. It is also heavily dependent upon the curation, storyboard to the chemistry between the panelists.  Altaf Tyrewala, Director, Chandigarh Literature Festival, says “The organizers and I were struggling to think of how CLF could be different from other literary festivals. We realized that in the circus, we often lose sight of the book, the very foundation of literature! So we decided that CLF would showcase the book, and nothing but the book. We decided to let active literary critics nominate that one book that had stayed with them over the past decade. There was a general agreement on what constituted a good book. Naturally, the discussion between the author and the nominating critic was focused entirely on the book in question. It made every session riveting, and more importantly the invitees realized that their presence was crucial to the festival’s format.” It helps to do some thinking in advance to avoid embarrassing incidents as happened at a recently concluded festival. The moderator was informed just before stepping on to the stage that the authors lined up were commercial-fiction authors. The response, the moderator shuddered and said, “I would never read such authors!”

    The buzz around festivals is tremendous. But the bubble may soon burst as has happened with book launches. People will weary of them if they happen too often. They will lose their charm for various reasons. As writer Ravi Subramanian points out, “The divisions between the literary and commercial authors are becoming apparent at these festivals.” Second, most of the festivals are conducted predominantly in English, though slowly this too is changing, to reflect and represent the local languages and the international participants. There are writers who have begun to feel bored and disillusioned  with these festivals that often sustain and strengthen the hierarchies among writers, dividing them into “stars” and ordinary writers. Even the most ordinary Indian English writers acquire “stardom” while the best of language writers are often time-fillers invited most often to show that they too are represented.

    Over the years the festivals have come to align themselves before and after the December/Christmas holidays, making it easier for authors to mark their presence at more than one event. The length and dates of the festivals are also determined by collaborating partners. In fact Surya Rao, director, Hyderabad Literary Festival, says, “We avoid a clash of dates with other major lit festivals because we check the dates of other fests. The Jaipur fest happens to be the closest to us.”

    Maybe Indian festival organisers will collaborate with each other as happens in other countries like Australia.

    A possible “classification” of literary festivals. 

    There are so many literary festivals being organised in India that one has to create some sort of “classification”. For instance, festivals that have stood the test of time of a minimum period of three years, grown in popularity (as measured by the increasing audience participation), established a brand in their name and proven to be sustainable in terms of the sponsorship would probably be at the top of the list. These would be the major milestones in the festival calendar – Jaipur ( Jaipur Literature Festival), Calcutta (Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival and Kolkata Literary Meet) , Chennai (Hindu Lit for Life), Mumbai (Kalaghoda, Times of India festival), Hyderabad Literary Festival and the Sahitya Akademi’s Festival of Letters.

    Then there is what could be termed as a “sub-genre” – that is, equally strong brands, dealing with genres of literature which are not necessarily given sufficient space for intense engagement, such as Bookaroo (children’s literature) organised in Delhi and in Pune (in collaboration with Sakaal Times), ComicCon (comics and graphic novels), Samanvay (Indian languages) in collaboration with the India Habitat Centre,, Cultures of Peace: Festival of the Northeast (Women and Human Rights) organised by Zubaan, Poetry with Prakriti (poems), Mussoorie Writers Festival (mountain and travel writing) organised by Stephen Alter and Lekhana (a long literary weekend).

    Finally there are the relatively new festivals that are as yet to establish themselves, but people are already familiar with them – Bangalore, Kasauli, Shillong, Agra, Lucknow, Benaras, Patna, Bhubhaneshwar, Chandigarh, Pune, and Kovalam. And there are still more being organised.

    Jaya Bhattacharji Rose 

    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

    The DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2014 – longlist

    The DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2014 – longlist

    DSC Prize for Literature logo15 BOOKS MAKE IT TO THE DSC PRIZE 2014 LONGLIST

    New Delhi, October 21, 2013: The longlist for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2014 was announced at the Goethe-Institut, Max Mueller Bhavan today, by noted Indian editor, writer and literary critic, Antara Dev Sen, who is chairing the jury panel for the prize. The final list of 15 chosen titles includes 3 works translated from Indian languages and comprises 4 debut novels along with the works of established writers. The longlist reflects a rich and healthy diversity of publishers across geographies including representation from the UK, US and Canada. With several acclaimed novels on the longlist, choosing the final winner for the 2014 edition of the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature would be an interesting and challenging task for the jury panel.

    There were over 65 entries for the coveted US $50,000 prize this year, from which the jury has compiled the longlist of 15 books that they feel best represents the eclectic and vibrant voice of the South Asian region. The jury panel comprises international luminaries from the world of literature and books- Antara Dev Sen, editor, writer and literary critic and chair of the DSC Prize jury, Arshia Sattar, an eminent Indian translator, writer and a teacher, Ameena Saiyid, the MD of Oxford University Press in Pakistan, Rosie Boycott, acclaimed British journalist and editor and Paul Yamazaki, a veteran bookseller and one of the most respected names in the book trade in the US.

    The longlisted entries contending for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2014 are:

    1. Anand: Book of Destruction (Translated by Chetana Sachidanandan; Penguin, India)
    2. Benyamin: Goat Days   (Translated by Joseph Koyippalli; Penguin, India)
    3. Cyrus Mistry: Chronicle of a Corpse Bearer (Aleph Book Company, India) 
    4. Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya: The Watch (Hogarth/ Random House, UK)   
    5. Manu Joseph: The Illicit Happiness of other people (John Murray, UK & Harper Collins India)
    6. Mohsin Hamid: How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia (Hamish Hamilton/Penguin, India)
    7. Nadeem Aslam: The Blind Man’s Garden (Random House, India)  
    8. Nayomi Munaweera: Island of a Thousand Mirrors (Perera Hussein Publishing, Sri Lanka & Hachette India)
    9. Nilanjana Roy: The Wildings (Aleph Book Company, India)
    10. Philip Hensher: Scenes from Early Life (Faber & Faber, USA)  
    11. Ru Freeman: On Sal Mal Lane (Graywolf Press, USA)
    12. Sachin Kundalkar: Cobalt Blue (Translated by Jerry Pinto; Hamish Hamilton/Penguin, India)
    13. Shyam Selvadurai: The Hungry Ghosts (Double Day Publishing, Canada)
    14. Sonora Jha: Foreign (Vintage Books/Random House, India)
    15. Uzma Aslam Khan: Thinner Than Skin (Clockroot Books/Interlink Publishing, USA)

    Speaking on the occasion, Antara Dev Sen, Chair of the jury commented “We are delighted to present the longlist for the DSC Prize 2014, which offers a wonderful variety of experiences from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, and reflects much of the exhilarating and bewildering diversity that is the hallmark of South Asian fiction. The list includes celebrated, award-winning authors as well as powerful new voices, and I am particularly happy that it includes novels in translation from other Indian languages.

    The novels range from the conventional to the experimental, from amazing tales sprawling across continents and generations to stories brilliantly detailed in a small, almost claustrophobic canvas. Several of these books are about violence – many about war, terrorism, conflict – underscoring what the contemporary South Asian experience is inescapably defined by. Many examine otherness – due to migration, caste or sexual identity, terror, alienation. Through extraordinary storytelling and sensitivity, these novels offer us a sense of history, a sense of loss and the invincibility of hope.” she added.

    The jury will now deliberate on the longlist over the next month and the shortlist for the DSC Prize will be announced on Wednesday, November 20, 2013 at The London School of Economics in London. The winner will be subsequently declared at the DSC Jaipur Literature Festival in January 2014.

    Namita Gokhale, Priya: In Incredible Indyaa

    Namita Gokhale, Priya: In Incredible Indyaa

    Namita Gokhale

    Originally published in the BusinessWorld Online. Here is the link: http://www.businessworld.in/en/storypage/-/bw/politics-of-society-life/394770.0/page/0

    Priya Kaushal is “just an ordinary housewife. A woman who has climbed up the ladder, step by determined step, with her husband’s unexpected luck helping things along.” She is immersed in the political and social milieu of the capital, where “everybody in Delhi knows everybody-everybody who matters, that is. As a jumped-up, middle-class girl from Mumbai I still cannot figure out these equations. Seek out the current lot of ‘useful’ people, scorn the hangers-on and despise those who might need you. That’s the formula for Delhi social networking.” But she is somebody now. “My husband Suresh Kaushal is the Minister of State for Food Processing, Animal Husbandry, Fisheries and Canneries. Maybe it’s not an ATM ministry, like telecom or power, but agriculture is important to modern India, and Food Processing is crucial to agriculture. That’s what Suresh says.” They have twin sons Luv and Kush, who are diametrically opposite to each other in their personalities. Luv is laid back, who believes he is destined to be an artist and “challenging his creativity”. Kush is an ex-investment banker turned budding politician who “knows how to grovel. It’s an essential skill in party politics.” To complicate matters, Lenin or Avinendra from Chhatisgarh returns to Priya’s life. He is an activist fighting for the release of Binayak Sen from jail, by proceeding on endless fasts, whereas his successful politician-wife, Geeta Devi, is achieving prominence. They become closely intertwined with Priya’s family, when her son Luv falls in love with Lenin’s daughter Paromita.

    All through the novel, Priya is confident that she “must act the part, and be supportive” of her husband, irrespective of whether their values meet on the same plane or not. For instance, her husband carries a residual loyalty to the idea of the Indian Woman, the Sacred Sati Savitri, and his advice to their son while looking for prospective brides was that “your mother is a True Indian Woman, the personification of a Bhartiya Nari. If I died, I very much doubt if she would want to continue living! Would you, Priya?” Priya is appalled. “My jaw dropped. What could I possibly say? Tell him it would be like reincarnation without dying? But no, I am an Indian woman. I stared at him speechlessly as he continued, a dreamy look playing upon his plump, superficially distinguished face.” To say this at a time, when honour killings and sati are rampant in “this new India, half dream, half nightmare, from which we might collectively awake”.

    But it is also an India where women like Geeta Devi stand “tall in every sense. How times change, how life changes, how people change. I could never have imagined the Geeta of yore, the subjugated small-town bride of my friend and rakhi brother Lenin, would transmute into this power-savvy politico. Of course she had a determined chin even then, but the cast of a jaw is not enough to propel someone into the political stratosphere. Her father had been an ex-chief minister, I recalled.” This is the same country, where mammon is god, borne at any cost, even violence. Priya is out shopping with her social butterfly friend Poonam who “tried on the latest style in outsize diamond danglers, all astronomically priced, completely out of range as far as I am concerned. Her hair got into her eyes, and she had to take off her Bulgari shades to readjust it. There was an ugly swelling in her perfectly made-up face, the blue and black bruises blending in perfectly with her shimmering green shadow. I turned away, pretending not to have noticed.” Maybe as Priya expresses it so neatly, “A lie in the interest of one’s family is not an untruth, but one’s dharma. As an Indian mother, I am aware which side of the truth my duties fall.”

    Violence exists at every level of society. The insidiousness of communalism makes its presence felt even in the life of Ghafoor the driver. Yet, Priya feels “safe with Ghafoor Bhai. Maybe it’s the Bombay influence-Bombay, before it was Mumbai. The city used to belong to everyone, and Allah’s chosen were visible everywhere, as the rest of us. In Delhi one tends to see them only in Purani Dilli and Nizammuddin, unless they are one of us, if you know what I mean.”

    Priya: In Incredible Indyaa is about the life of Paro, a generation after Priya. It is Namita Gokhale at her best, with her tongue-in-cheek genuflection to all the activisim of the 1980s and early 1990s-feminsim, communism, Maoists, revival of Sati, honour killing etc. Post-liberalisation, it changed, but it did leave its indelible impact on society. The other sad fact that she stresses is that social mobility is still important. This is a novel that cannot be dismissed lightly. Some of the most interesting debates and documentation of capturing a moment in time are being done by women writers, but with confidence about the changing trends. A book like this demands of it a sequel, preferably an annual affair?

    Jaya Bhattacharji Rose is a publishing consultant and literary consultant

    “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

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