A royal room for books

Updated: Jan 05, 2020, 08:05 IST | Jane Borges | Mumbai

After a successful debut in the Middle East, Jaipur Literature Festival returns to home turf for a five-day affair with literature, history and activism.

Sanjoy K Roy
Sanjoy K Roy

Even as literature festivals emerge by the dozen—despite lack of sponsors—only a handful enjoy the status of coveted. The Jaipur Literature Festival, now in its 13th edition, is one.

Fresh from its Middle East debut in Doha, Qatar, the JLF, which will return to its customary home at Diggi Palace Hotel in Jaipur, has got an interesting new roster of authors and journalists from across the world. This time, the festival focuses closely on climate emergency, international relations, science and artificial intelligence. "But looking at the situation around us, we will also have a series on young voices.

We are in the midst of curating that session," says Sanjoy K Roy, producer, JLF.

The climate change series will look at the floods that ravaged urban landscapes over the last decade, including Mumbai, Surat, Srinagar, Chennai and Patna. A panel comprising environmentalist and politician Jairam Ramesh, authors Viju B and Krupa Ge, and Marcus Moench, will explore the consequences of abusing nature.

"We are also delighted that Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee has agreed to be part of the festival," says Roy. He will be leading the session, Poor Economics: Fighting Global Poverty, where he will talk about his innovative field research-based approach to development economics.

Christina Lamb, Elizabeth Gilbert and Abhijit BanerjeeChristina Lamb, Elizabeth Gilbert and Abhijit Banerjee

One of the star authors to make her presence at the JLF this year is Eat Pray Love author Elizabeth Gilbert, whose novel City of Girls released this year. Gilbert, along with Leila Slimani, John Lancaster, Howard Jacobson and debutant Avni Doshi, will share insights on the "art of the novel" with Damian Barr. The session, says Roy, hopes to answer questions about the process of creation of fiction, and how one makes up characters and situations that are believable. British foreign correspondent Christina Lamb will be in conversation with journalist Suhasini Haidar in a talk about Nujeen Mustafa, a Kurdish Syrian refugee, who escaped the civil war in Aleppo and travelled to Europe on a wheelchair.

"It wasn't easy to put this year's festival together," admits Roy. "With the economy in a desperate state, getting sponsorship became difficult." But what he finds most upsetting is the apathetic attitude towards arts and culture. That they have, in the past, been blamed for causing a nuisance during the festival run in Jaipur, hasn't helped their cause. "We are trying to bring the most brilliant minds together, but we are made to look like the problem creators. I hope that changes for us."

January 23 to 27, 2020
Where: Diggi Palace Hotel in Jaipur
To register: jaipurliteraturefestival.org/

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