Jaipur Literature Festival

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Jaipur Literature Festival 2013

The Jaipur Literature Festival is a unique celebration of writing that has grown into something bigger and more wonderful to anything we could ever have hoped when we first conceived this festival less than a decade ago. From only 14 guests turning up in 2005, most of whom were tourists who took the wrong turn; in 2006 we had a big enough crowd nearly to fill the Diggi Durbar Hall. About four hundred people came in 2007. Last year, we had 120,000 footfalls, and the success of Jaipur has inspired a whole galaxy of other literary festivals not only in India but in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan and now Burma. We are as surprised as we are proud of this.

Jaipur remains the one of the world’s most beautiful cities, with a rich literary and cultural heritage and a proud tradition of local literature. As ever, we still pride ourselves on being the most democratic and egalitarian book festival in the world. All events are completely free; there are no reserved spaces for grandees; our authors mingle with the crowds and eat with them on a first-come, first – served basis. People also know that when they come here they will have a lot of fun. As Time Out put it nicely last year: “Its settled. The Jaipur Literature Festival is officially the Woodstock, Live 8 and Ibiza of world literature, with an ambience that can best be described as James Joyce meets Monsoon Wedding.” But the scale, literary seriousness and reach of the festival is something that still takes us all aback.

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This year we have so much to offer that it is difficult to know where to begin. My colleague Namita Gokhale has written eloquently on the extraordinary Indian list she has put together in all its multi – linguistic glory. I am equally proud of the international list which this year is, I believe, the most cerebral, intellectually – stimulating and high – powered we’ve ever fielded. We are pleased to present two of the greatest poets in Europe, Simon Armitage and John Burnside.

In fiction we have Commonwealth Prize winner AminattaForna, Booker Prize winner Howard Jacobson, two Orange Prize winners Linda Grant and Madeline Miller, and Abraham Verghese- without doubt the most successful writer of Indian origin in the US. We have two of the most respected novelists in the Arab world, AhdafSoueif and Tahar Ben Jalloun and welcome back two of Pakistan’s most celebrated literary wunderkinds NadeemAslam and Mohammad Hanif. We introduce Indian audiences for the first time to my favourite historical novelist, Lawrence Norfolk, and three of Britain’s most popular literary writers, Sebastian Faulks, Debbie Moggach and Zoe Heller, whose award – winning books have been adapted into the highlyacclaimed movies Birdsong, The Exotic Marigold Hotel and Notes on a Scandal.

Our non-fiction list is especially strong this year. We have no less than three winners of the Samuel Johnson Prize for non – fiction, Frank Dikkoter on Mao, Wade Davis on Everest and Orlando Figes on Stalin’s purges, while Pulitzer winner Andrew Solomon will speak on his remarkable newbook, Far From the Tree. From Harvard we have Diana Eck, whose book India: A Sacred Geography has been one of the hits of the year, the philosopher Michael Sandel who brings his popular BBC Radio 4 series, “The Public Philosopher,” to Jaipur and the leading cultural theorist, Homi K.Bhabha. From Columbia comes the much-revered post-colonial and postmodern literary critic and thinker GayatriChakrovortySpivak and from Oxford comes acclaimed authority on Eastern Europe, Timothy Garton Ash and the Shakesperian Christopher Ricks.

We present three of the world’s most acclaimed artists in conversation : AnishKapoor, Marc Quinn and William Kentridge. Nandan Nilekani will discuss Breakout Nations with Ruchir Sharma, author of this year’s bestselling book of non – fiction. Some of the most admired essayists in the world will also be speaking : Elif Batuman of the New Yorker, Pico Iyer of Time Magazine and Tim Parks and Ian Buruma of the New York Review of Books.

We have sessions on subjects as diverse as the history of miniature painting and war reporting, the Jewish novel, the 18th century sexual revolution, detective fiction and the literature of 9 / 11. We focus on new writing from Latin America and Iran; examine the economic prospects of India. We’ll look at the mixed legacy of the British Empire, the decline of America and the rise of China. On a lighter note to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the James Bond films we have a special session featuring Sebastian Faulks, who wrote the latest book in the franchise, Devil May Care, and Ian Fleming’s biographer Andrew Lycett. Finally from London we welcome the Writer’s XI who will be playing the Rajasthan Royals.

It’s going to be an absolutely extraordinary five days and only wish it were possible to clone oneself so that one could attend five sessions simultaneously.

It is truly impossible to separate Jaipur from its quintessential attributes. The colourful canvas of the city encapsulates everything that emanates Indian history and culture, be it the majestic forts, the regal palaces or the busy bazaars. But in recent years, the pink city has come to be associated with one more thing – DSC Jaipur Literature Festival, the five – day annual literary carnival that brings the best of Indian and International authors, poets, journalists, and book lovers, together under one roof.

The festival programs is from 24th – 28th January, 2013 Diggi Palace, Jaipur. As the festival enters its sixth year and only a few days remaining, we take a look at what to expect at DSC JLF 2013.

The beginning of last year’s festival had Oprah Winfrey under the spot light, whose session with Barkha Dutt resulted in unending queues outside the Front Lawns. And towards the end, it was Salman Rushdie’s absent presence that created an unnecessary hullabaloo. This year, however, things are going to be different. “We have deliberately moved away from the focus of popular faces and returned to discussing serious literature. Last year, we had gone a little too far with popularising the festival and hence we have consciously tried to move away from pleasing the crowds. So, we’ve got three Samuel Johnson Prize winners – historian Orlando Figes, Frank Dikotter and Wade Davis. From Harvard we have Michael Sandel, a political philosopher and Homi K. Bhabha, professor and Padma Bhushan recipient. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak from Columbia will speak on post colonial literature and from Oxford, Christopher Ricks will address a session on ‘The Global Shakespeare’,” says author William Dalrymple, who also happens to be the co – director of JLF along with writer Namita Gokhale. “Every single voice is as important to us. They might not be a household name like Oprah Winfrey but they are all highly famous and eminent in their field of work. And hence our challenge is bigger.” adds Gokhale.

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Engrossing reading sessions, enthralling discussions, heated debates, amusing Q&A rounds, rushing between the Durbar Hall and Mughal Tent to grab the best seat and a lot more – as always, there will be activities galore and one simply cannot afford to run out of energy and enthusiasm. Grouping near the stage, crowding the aisles and standing behind the chairs are a common sight there because sincere participation is more important than anything else. In the past, celebrated authors like Vikram Seth and notable faces have been spotted sitting on the floor during sessions and the absence of any VIP treatment is what makes JLF a strong bond for literature lovers to connect at the ground level. But the increasing number of people attending the festival also means trouble accommodating people at Diggi Palace. The number of attendees is growing significantly by the day. Although discussions about the venue have been on for a while, there isn’t any concrete plan yet. This year, however, the organisers have moved the music area out of Diggi Palace and re – invented that space by naming it Charbagh, the sixth venue. “The rise in the number of attendees is a gratifying compliment and a perplexing problem at the same time. I’ve been watching the festival since the very beginning. The palace and the festival have grown together. The increasing number of people actually adds to the collective energy and the speakers feel very good. So far, the audience has been very well behaved. But I can’t say about the venue at the moment. Probably later, more offsite events could be organised to spread it across the city.”

It wouldn’t be inappropriate to say that the Jaipur Literature Festival is Asia’s biggest and arguably one of the prestigious literary gatherings. But it’s also true that several other provincial lit fests have sprung up in recent times. Does it mean that JLF may, in the years to come, lose relevance in any way? Namita Gokhale disagrees, “Not at all! Everyone’s trying to make their local literature heard. A Rajasthani literature festival cannot have the same outreach for Kannada literature and that is why the festivals are rooted to their regions. All Indian languages are able to find resurgence in this process.” And speaking of regional languages, one should also keep in mind that this year, JLF is going have multilingual sessions in 17 different Indian languages.

The Musical Programs

24th January 2013 | 7 – 10 PM

Susheela Raman and the Mian Miri Qawals – UK, India and Pakistan

Susheela Raman and her formidable half-London, half – Rajasthani band featuring Kutle Khan, Nathoo Solanki and Sam Mills will join forces with the mighty Mian Miri Qawals of Lahore. After debuting their collaboration in Jaipur 2011, Susheela and the Mian Miris performed a sold – out concert at the South Bank Centre in London last April 2012, receiving five star reviews from both the Guardian and Financial Times and an immediate return invitation to headline the Royal Festival Hall on April 10th 2013. The combined energy of these performers and their explosive combination of Panjabi Sufism, Pan – Indian Roots Music and Anglo – Saxon Post – Rock has to be experienced firsthand.

Vincent Segal and the Master Musicians of Rajasthan – France and India

Parisian Vincent Segal has earned a reputation as one of Europe’s most intriguing and accomplished musicians. A classically-trained cellist, he jumped ship to develop his playing with African musicians and some of the most famous names in Rock, World and Contemporary Music and has worked with people as diverse as Pierre Boulez, Elvis Costello, Sting and Marianne Faithful and is a long – time collaborator of Susheela Raman. His recent album ‘Chamber Music’ with Malian Kora virtuoso Ballake Cissoko has made waves around the world. Always creative and in search of a new challenge, he will be combining his talents with some of Rajasthan’s finest musicians to create something very special for this unique night.

25th January 2013 | 7.30 – 10 PM

Rock Veda – India

Rock Veda is a Delhi – based band that believes in the power of music. A Progressive Fusion Band, they coalesce the natural emotion of Indian Classical with a creative contemporary mix, belting out scintillating & heart hitting original compilations for music aficionados – Sufi to earthy music and from Hindustani to fusion Music.Very Indian yet very international, their music is creative, original and fresh.

Rajasthan Josh – India

Nathoo Solanki, Chugge Khan, other Rajasthani musicians, enchanting dancers & fire – eaters come together in a mesmerizing performance combining the folk traditions of north western region of India. Using instruments such as the nagara, shehnai, dhol , sarangi, kamaicha, kartal and morchang incorporating vocal styles ranging from the mystic Sufi traditions & bhajans to popular folk songs of Rajasthan, the performance will be interspersed with captivating dances like the Ghoomar, Kalbelia & Terah Taali.

26th January 2013 | 7:30 – 10 PM

Coke Studio @ MTV – India


Angaraag Mahanta, popularly known as Papon, is a singer, composer and producer from Assam, India. He was introduced to music early on in his childhood, and went on to learn singing and instruments such as the khol, tabla, guitar and harmonium. Papon’s music can be classified under a host of genres, most notably ambient electronic, acoustic – folk, new age Indian classical music. He’s noted for his use of pentatonic Mongoloid notes, influences from local river songs, Indian classical music, ghazals and even new-age electronica. Besides performing with his band The East India Project, Papon has also collaborated with Indian electronic duo Midival Punditz.

Papon’s first Assamese album ‘Jonaaki Raati’, released in 2004. His debut Hindi album, The Story So Far, released earlier this year, has received rave reviews from critics all around the country. He is been part of both the seasons on Coke studio @ MTV. Papon also has super-hit songs from the India film industry – Jiye Kyun from Dum Maro Dum, andKyun from Barfi.

Shilpa Rao

Under the guidance of singer Hariharan, Shilpa Rao trained with Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan. She has performed with Shankar Mahadevan and is currently singing jingles for advertisements and Bollywood films. Shilpa Rao has performed for Karsh Kale in Season 2 of Coke Studio @ MTV. She has also produced Dum Dum along with Jaleebi Cartel this Season. Karsh says Shilpa has a great earthy voice and lends a great touch to the songs. As for Shilpa, she considers this to be one of the best music collaborations and enjoys working with Karsh since he gives everyone great creative freedom and gets them to put together something beautiful. Shilpa considers Coke Studio @ MTV to be a boon for musicians as they can put forth something they would otherwise never get to do.

27th January 2013 | 7:30 – 10 PM

Chicago Children’s Choir – USA

Founded in 1956 during the Civil Rights Movement, Chicago Children’s Choir is a multiracial, multicultural choral music education organization, shaping the future by making a difference in the lives of children and youth through musical excellence. Today, the Choir serves over 3,000 children ages 8 to 18 through choirs in 60 schools, after – school programs in 8 Chicago neighborhoods and the internationally acclaimed Concert Choir. As a touring ensemble, the Choir has performed throughout the United States, Canada, South Africa, Korea, Japan, South America and Europe and for such dignitaries as Bill and Hillary Clinton, the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Folk Songs ( P unjabi & Hindi ): Harpreet

Harpreet is a classically trained vocalist, a self taught guitarist and flautist. He has performed at many popular festivals and prominent stages, and has composed music for theatre productions, documentaries and short films. Harpreet is in the process of recording his first album.

Joaquín Ruiz “Caravana” – Spain

One of the most important figures of flamenco dance in Spain, Joaquín Ruiz is a dancer with breathtaking technique. Many renowned dancers define him as one of the most outstanding dancers of his generation. After performing and presenting different productions in the world’s most famous theatres , he now comes back with “Caravana” his new musical live show interlaced with Mediterranean sounds, Arabic and Balkan melodies, Iberian and South American folklore. The result is an unique sound that emerges out of different cultural roots and becomes a universal language. In 2011 “Caravana” was included in the WMCE ( World Music Charts Europe ), one of the most prestigious and influential radio lists in Europe broadcasted in more than 20 countries.

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