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The big fat literary festival is here!

Come January 21, and all roads will lead to  Jaipur. Suprita Mitter and Dipanjan Sinha pick the coolest of the lot among new writers, old favourites, translations and music

Get booked by these names

Marlon James
Marlon James

Marlon James: The Jamaican author won the Booker prize last year for his novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings. After receiving the Booker, the author said that this novel about an attempt to murder Bob Marley, was rejected nearly 80 times before beafore being published.

Anuradha Roy

Anuradha Roy: The acclaimed Indian author won the DSC prize for her latest novel, Sleeping on Jupiter, that explores the loss of innocence through Indian hypocrisies.   

Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi: The Mumbai-based author of the bestselling novels, The Lost Flamingoes of Bombay and The Last Song of Dusk may be in no hurry to write another novel but is always interesting to listen to.

Margaret Atwood: Published in over 35 countries, the Canadian author is loved by critics and school students alike. And now she is as prolific with her tweets as she has been with her novels.

Sudheendra Kulkarni: After many years in politics, starting with the Communist Party of India and then Bharatiya Janata Party, Kulkarni is now the head of the Observer Research Foundation, a think tank. Now identified as the man with ink on his face, a recent handiwork of Shiv Sena at the release of the book, Neither a Hawk Nor a Dove: An Insider’s Account of Pakistan’s Foreign Relations by former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, Kulkarni would have interesting things to say.

Chiki Sarkar

Chiki Sarkar: This high-profile publisher started the first Indian venture into digital publishing with Juggernaut Books, which readers, writers and the entire literary world is looking at eagerly to see how things shape up.

Kunal Basu: The author of the acclaimed novel, The Japanese Wife, has come out with a new novel, Kalkatta, which explores the underbelly of Kolkata. In a few months of being published it is already getting great reviews.

Alexander McCall Smith

Alexander McCall Smith: This Scottish master is one of the most loved storytellers in the English language who has delighted readers across the world with his different series of novels, The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, 44 Scotland Street, The Sunday Philosophy Club, Corduroy Mansions, and the Professor Dr Von Igelfeld Entertainments. He is also emeritus professor of medical ethics at the University of Edinburgh.

Saikat Majumdar: The author’s second novel, The Firebird, has received wide acclaim and was nominated for the Atta Galatta-Bangalore Literature Festival Fiction Prize.

Jerry Pinto: The Mumbai-based author of the acclaimed novel, Em and The Big Hoom, also teaches journalism at Sophia College and always has something new and interesting to say about his city and writing.

Log on to: jaipurliteraturefestival.org/jlf-2016/speakers

The sound of music

It's difficult to imagine the litterati gather under one roof at Jaipur and not enjoy the evening soirée without music. This year, the festival has an interesting line up of musician from across genres. Here’ s a look.

Morning ragas


Chugge Khan

>> The festival will open with a performance by local Rajasthani musicians Nathoo Solanki and Chugge Khan who will be joined by Gaayatri Kaundinya, a Hindustani classical vocalist of the Baba Allauddin Maihar Senia Gharana.
>> The second day will feature Indian Classical and Rajasthani Folk Fusion artist, Suman Yadav. She will perform music from her new album, Evening Serenity featuring classical devotional music.
>> Hindustani classical vocalist of the Patiala tradition and a junior ethnomusicologist from Kolkata, Anirban Bhattacharyya, will present a tribute to age-old traditions set against the backdrop of modern times.  
>> Don’t miss Dagar Archives Gunijan Sabha featuring Padma Shree Ustad Wasufuddin Dagar with his mellifluous renditions of Dhrupad style of singing along with many other musical styles.
>> A performance by Amrit Kaur Lohia, who has carved out a niche for herself as an accomplished sarangi player and vocalist in the genres of Punjabi Folk, Jazz and Soul singing.

Evening tunes
>> Kick-starting the evening music programme will be a headline act by the Kutle Khan Project, a  collective of Rajasthani folk musicians led by Kutle Khan, a singer who also plays the dholak, khartal, bhapang, harmonium and sarangi. Joining Khan will be Yom and Wang Li, a Jew’s harp player from China.

Karsh Kale
Karsh Kale

>> You can catch a bohemian blend of Jazz and Electronica by Midival Punditz and Skavengers who will play a mix of Sska, Rocksteady, Dub, Jazz and Punk with Cuban and other Latin influences .
>> Mukhtiyar Ali will merge the earthliness of Folk and the octaves of the Classical traditions at the Amber fort.
>> There will also be Mrigya playing the best of Classical and Contemporary Indian music
>> Bangalore-based band Swarathma and Delhi 2Dublin will be performing on the same day prsenting a mix of music from Electronic Fusion to Bhangra Beats.
>> A special treat for attendees at the Writers’ Ball this year will feature acts by Nathoo Solanki and Chugge Khan in collaboration with the Jaisalmer Boys, saxophonist George Brooks and other Rajasthani musicians. The troupe will be joined by dancer and fire-eaters, Chari Dancers, Kalbelia Snake Charmer’s Dance and Terah Taali.

Log on to: jaipurliteraturefestival.org

Translate this
For those in the business, Jaipur BookMark (JBM) will offer a platform to get to know India’s diverse literatures, and an opportunity to connect with publishers and authors from over 23 Indian languages. It will feature a Rights catalogue of select works on offer for translation. They have planned to commission eight works of literary fiction and non-fiction. "This year’s edition of BookMark brings a special emphasis on translations. It is gratifying to see a significant space emerging for the exchange of translation rights. We hope this catalogue and the initiative around it will allow more people to become knowledgeable about Indian literature, shares Neeta Gupta, publisher and co-organiser of Jaipur BookMark.

A still from the play Piya Behrupia
A still from the play Piya Behrupia

Also check out
>> Celebrating the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare, the play Piya Behrupiya, directed by Atul Kumar
(pic below) is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night will be performed at The Albert Museum.
>> Time and the Indian Imagination, an evening of readings by celebrated playwright Girish Karnad. The readings delve into the tunes of Indian classical music, which Karnad says, has ragas associated with different times of the day. He will read three scenes from his plays associated with evening/ folklore Nagamamdala, midnight/ history Dreams of Tipu Sultan and morning/myth The Fire and the Rain.

Organiser speak
The ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival seeks as ever to showcase Indian writing and to engage with the best in the world of literature. This year, we have a range of Indian languages, including Hindi, Urdu, Bangla, Kannada, Punjabi, Kashmiri, Gujarati and Marathi — and also writers from Japan, Germany, France, Spain, and literature from so many other countries and cultures. There is a special emphasis on Caribbean literature, and we are delighted to have Marlon James, the Booker prize winner for 2015, with us.
— Namita Gokhale, co-founder, Jaipur Literature Festival

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