Our guide to the Jaipur Literature Festival this week
Make choosing sessions easier
This year’s edition of Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) has a power-packed line up, with interesting talks and book launches spread over five days (January 24 – January 28). Now in its twelfth year, the festival goes beyond literature, to bring art, music and history within its ambit. If you’re making your way to Jaipur for what promises to be a cultural extravaganza, let us break down the festival for you.
DAY 1: THURSDAY, JAN 24
Between the Covers: Form and Fiction (At Durbar Hall; 2:30pm-3:30pm)
Authors Anjum Hasan, Kanishk Tharoor and Mahesh Rao will chat with Mitra Phukan about their creative processes, and what compels them to write.
The New New York Novel (At Samvad; 2:30pm-3:30pm)
Authors from diverse backgrounds, ethnicities and countries, Californian-Zimbabwe, North London-Kashmiri and Illinois-Bangladeshi — NoViolet Bulawayo, Tania James and Tanwi Nandini Islam — will be in conversation with novelist Hari Kunzru about New York. The talk will be all about how they all made the city their home and made it the background to their fiction.
Colson Whitehead, author of The Underground Railroad, will make his first appearance in South Asia. He will discuss with fellow writer Kanishk Tharoor what went into the making of The Underground Railroad, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize.
Yinning the Yang: Perspectives on Gender (Mughal Tent; 3:45pm-4:45pm)
Dhrubo Jyoti (genderqueer Dalit writer and poet), Madhavi Menon (academic and author), Nandini Krishnan (writer, dancer and stage actress) and Urvashi Butalia (writer and publisher of Zubaan) will be in conversation with Manasi Subramaniam, talking about the recent wave of social movements like #MeToo and landmark judgements such as the one on Section 377.
Writing About Writing (Charbagh. 5:15-5:15pm)
Writers Andrew Sean Greer and Anita Nair will shed light about the highs and lows of self-expression and what it means to write about writing. In conversation with author Prayaag Akbar.
DAY 2: FRIDAY, JAN 25
Empress: Nur Jahan and the Women of the Mughal Empire (Baithak; 10am-11am)
Authors Ira Mukhtoy and Ruby Lal will be in conversation with Parvati Sharma about the powerful women of the Mughal Empire who made their mark in a male-dominated world but remain relatively lesser-known.
Where Does Fiction Come From? (Charbagh; 11:15am-12:15pm)
Aspiring writers, take notes. Five stellar novelists — Andrew Sean Greer, Ben Okri, Sebastian Barry, Tania James and Vikram Chandra — will give you a glimpse into their writing process and how they ensure their characters are believable. In conversation with Chandrahas Choudhury.
Jasmine Days: Winner of 2018 JCB Prize for Literature (Charbagh; 12:30-1:30pm)
Loved the Jasmine Days, which won the JCB Prize for Literature last year? Its writer Benyamin will be part of a panel with Shahnaz Habib and NS Madhavan. In conversation with Rajeev Punnoli Irupattil.
DAY THREE: SATURDAY, JAN 26
Call Me by Your Name (Front Lawns; 11:15am-12:15pm)
If the movie Call Me By Your Name touched you, catch its author André Aciman talk to Anindita Ghosh about what went into the writing of the novel, and what he makes of the critically-acclaimed film adaptation.
Beyond Borders: On Migration and the Novel (Samvad; 12:30pm-1:30pm)
How does migration affect writing? Literary exiles and migrants Álvaro Enrigue, Hari Kunzru, Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, Kaveh Akbar and Tania James will share their experiences with Amitava Kumar.
A talk by Simon Sebag Montefiore (introduced by Richard Evans) will delve into the fascinating history of The Romanovs, one of the most successful dynasties of modern times. Montefiore will take you through the rise and fall of one powerful family.
Billionaire Raj: A Journey Through India’s New Guilded Age (Baithak; 3:45pm-4:45pm)
As the rich grow richer and the poor get poorer, what is the future of India going to be like? James Crabtree will be in conversation with Suhasini Haidar.
Book Launch: How to Get Published in India (Charbagh 4:45-5:15pm)
Think you have a book in you? Shobhaa De will launch writer and journalist Meghna Pant’s book, which is a practical guidebook on how to write, publish and sell a book.
The Rabbit and the Squirrel (Baithak; 5:15pm-5:45pm)
Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi will be in conversation with Anindita Ghose about the context of his book, The Rabbit and the Squirrel, and discuss the nuances of the fable as a genre.
DAY FOUR: SUNDAY,27 JAN
Before and After Pi (Front Lawn; 10am-11am)
How did the runaway success of Life of Pi change author Yann Martel’s life? Find out in his conversation with Jerry Pinto.
All the Lives We Never Lived (Baithak; 11:15am-12:15pm)
Anuradha Roy, author of All the Lives We Never Lived, will discusses her work with poet and novelist Tishani Doshi.
Rome: The History of an Ancient Civilisation (Charbagh; 12:30pm-1:30pm)
History buffs, don’t miss classicist Mary Beard’s session on ancient Rome’s society, politics, culture, with historian Dan Jones.
On First Novels (Mughal Tent; 12:30pm-1:30pm)
Four first-timers Anuk Arudpragasam, Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, Omar Robert Hamilton and Tanwi Nandini Islam, will talk to Kanishk Tharoor about the difficult job of penning your debut novel.
Is there really such a thing as the Jewish novels? Or do individual Jewish writers manage to transcend religions and cultures? André Aciman, Simon Sebag Montefiore and Tova Reich will discuss Jewishness and literature with Zachary Leader.
Not Quite Not White (Baithak; 2:30pm-3:30pm)
Sharmila Sen, author of Not Quite Not White, and Nikesh Shukla, author of What is Race? Who are Racists? Why Does Skin Colour Matter? And Other Big Questions, discuss white privilege and how complexion matters with with Amrita Tripathi.
Women and Power (Front Lawn; 3:45pm-4:45pm)
Feminist writer and classicist Mary Beard unpacks how history has treated strong women — from Medusa to Hillary Clinton, the cultural assumptions about women and power, and her own experiences being subjected to sexism. She will discuss her ideas with Germaine Greer and Reni Eddo Lodge, in conversation with Bee Rowlatt.
Out of Africa: Readings (Baithak; 3:45pm-4:45pm)
Get to know a new side of Africa as five African authors, NoViolet Bulawayo, Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi and Zukiswa Wanner, read from their work, and discuss all things African literature with Chiké Frankie Edozien.
DAY 5: MONDAY, JAN 28
After Trainspotting (Charbagh; 10am-11am)
Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting (later turned into a movie by Danny Boyle), will discuss life and recent works with Chandrahas Choudhury.
What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape (Baithak; 11:15am-12:15pm)
Sohaila Abdulali who was gang-raped as a teenager in Bombay more than 30 years, shares her story, as well those of many others, in her book, What We Talk About When We Talk of Rape. The feminist will be in conversation with journalist and women’s rights activist Namita Bhandare, in a moving session.
The Freedom Artist (Charbagh; 12:30pm,-1:30pm)
Fans of Ben Okri’s The Famished Road and The Freedom Artist, don’t miss the author’s session as he talks about his life and writing.
My Husband and Other Animals (Samvad; 2:30pm-3:30pm)
Eco-warriors, this session featuring Rom Whitaker (herpetologist and wildlife conservationist), his wife Janaki Lenin (author, My Husband and Other Animals) and Darryl Jones (naturalist and author, The Birds at My Table). The trio will talk about the the fragile balance of human interaction with the creatures we co-exist with.
What: Jaipur Literature Festival
When: January 24-28
Where: Diggi Palace Hotel, Jaipur