Friday, February 8, 2013

Notes from the Jaipur Literature Festival: 24-28 January 2013

Jaipur in January is a time for renewal for thousands of committed readers, writers and lovers of literature who make the annual pilgrimage. The Jaipur Literature Festival made the Diggi Palace resonate with Bhojpuri, Maithili, Rajasthani, Santhali, Hindi, English, Spanish, French, Arabic, Farsi, Urdu, Sanskrit, and many other languages.It was an occasion to celebrate the vibrant Indian multivocality.

The keynote address, 'O to Live Again!' was delivered by Mahasweta Devi.The surge of national solidarity on women’s issues found an echo as poems, stories and panels discussed the experience of being a woman.

'Remembering Sunil da' paid homage to the great writer and included tributes from Sharmila Tagore, Amit Chaudhuri, Aruna Chakravarti and Arunava Sinha.

This year there was an eclectic mix of Indian and international writers.

The Indian list was put together by Namita Gokhale. Sessions such as the 'The Language of Literature' had Ambai, Sitanshu Yashaschandra, Benyamin Daniel, Udaya Narayana Singh and Manil Suri in conversation about the genius of their particular mother tongue.
A masterclass of Indian poets included Ambika Dutt, Ashok Vajpeyi and Gagan Gill in Hindi, K. Satchinandan in Malayalam, Jeet Thayil and Tishani Doshi in English.A range of writers from the state of Rajasthan which included C.P Deval, K.C Malu, Suman Bissa, Malchand Tiwari and Nand Bhradwaj spoke about the ‘Nirwali Pichhanh’, the unique cultural and literary intangible of Rajasthani identity.
‘The Buddha in Literature’  saw His Holiness the Dalai Lama in conversation with Pico Iyer.The women’s place within Buddhist theology was discussed in ‘Women on the Path’ by Ranjini Obeyesekere, Kunzang Choden, Ani Choying and Swati Chopra.

The international list was put together by  festival director William Dalrymple. Simon Armitage and John Burnside the two 'greatest poets' in Europe were present.Representing fiction were the Orange prize winners Linda Grant and Madeline Miller, the Commonwealth prize winner Aminatta Forna, and finally Booker prize winner Howard Jacobson. From the Arab world were present two respected novelists Ahdab Soueif and Tahar Ben Jalloun. From Pakistan came the celebrated Nadeem Aslam and Mohammad Hanif.
Popular literary writers from Britain Sebastian Faulks, Debbie Moggach and Zoe Heller whose books have been adapted to the acclaimed movies Birdsong, The Exotic Marigold Hotel and Notes on a Scandal were present as well.
The Artist's Eye on 25 January saw three acclaimed artists Anish Kapoor, Marc Quinn and William Kentridge in conversation with leading cultural theorist Homi K. Bhaba along with Glen Lowry, the director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Out of Africa saw the three writers of ' New Africa' Aminatta Forna, Mary Harper and Anjan Sundaram in conversation with Kwasi Kwarteng the author of  Ghosts of Empire on 26 January.
The festival represented all the different genres of writing. Admired essayists from the world Etif Batuman from the New Yorker, Pico Iyer from Time Magazine and Tim Parks and Ian Baruma of the New York Review of Books made the sessions lively.

The Stree-Samya Experience

On Friday, 25 January, “God as a Political Philosopher: Dalit Perspectives on Buddhism” was held at the Tata Steel Front Lawns. The panelists at the discussion were Ajay Navaria, our very own author of the Untouchable God, Kancha Ilaiah, Nirupama Dutt and moderator Patrick French.

Book Launch  of the Untouchable God and 'Voices from Under' took place at the Conselage Durbar Hall on 28 January where Santhali Stories by Damayanti Beshra and Untouchable God by Kancha Ilaiah  were introduced by the director Namita Gokhale.

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