Described as "the greatest literary show on earth", the much-anticipated 2019 edition of the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF), is seeing participation of over 500 speakers across 15 Indian and 12 international languages, representing over 30 nationalities and awards ranging from the Nobel, the Man Booker, the Pulitzer and the Sahitya Akademi.
The January 24-27 festival began with an inaugural keynote by Nobel laureate Venki Ramakrishnan, President of the Royal Society and author of 'Gene Machine: The Race to Decipher the Secrets of the Ribosome'.
It will feature Man Booker-winner Ben Okri; Pulitzer-awardee Colson Whitehead; Yale Professor and renowned astrophysicist, Priyamvada Natarajan; best-selling and prolific writer Alexander McCall Smith; Man Booker-winning Yann Martel, whose international bestseller 'Life of Pi' scaled unbelievable heights, both as a novel and as a film; and among others, writer and essayist Andre Aciman, whose 'Call Me by Your Name' depicts a tale of enduring love.
Virtually every leading contemporary Indian writer, including Anuradha Roy, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Shashi Tharoor, Perumal Murugan, Devdutt Pattanaik, and Manoranjan Byapari, among others will enthrall thousands of book lovers who will be attending the five-day extravaganza.
The sessions cover a grand span of ideas from environment, conservation, wildlife cinema, politics, to history, poetry, science and Artificial Intelligence, language, mythology and gender.
In an atmosphere charged with the outcry of #MeToo allegations, 'Women and Power' will have Cambridge Professor of Classics and vocal feminist, Mary Beard discuss history's flawed positioning of women with the powerful voices of Germaine Greer, Katty Kay, Reni Eddo Lodge and Urvashi Butalia. They will be in conversation with Bee Rowlatt.
January 25 will mark India's National Voters' Day and 70 years of the Election Commission of India as the nation prepare for the 17th General Election. Attendees will be in for a treat as in the session 'India Decides: The Great March to Democracy', vastly experienced 16th Chief Election Commissioner, Navin B. Chawla, author of the forthcoming 'Every Vote Counts: The Story of the Great Indian Election', will share an in-depth account of the challenges of executing free and fair elections in the world's largest democracy.
Language and its almost primeval relationship with writers are discussed in 'Reclaiming the Mother Tongue', an umbilical tie difficult to shed with bilingual poet Akhil Katyal, and leading Malayalam litterateur N.S. Madhavan.
At the same time, conversations ranging from ancient civilisations to wars that changed the course of history and intriguing narratives by mystics and from mythologies will also be in focus.
Hundreds of such sessions, planned by co-directors William Dalrymple and Namita Gokhale will take place simultaneously over the next five days.
While the hub of the festival continues to be its customary home at the Diggi Palace, it now also has extension events across multiple locations in and around the city including the Amber Fort, the Jawahar Kala Kendra and the Nahargarh Fort.
Jaipur BookMark features sessions on the challenges of publishers, the fate of bookstores, skilling for the publishing industry, translations and rights, market trends, art and design work in publishing, distribution models and many engaging discussions.
(Saket Suman is in Jaipur at the invitation of the organisers of Jaipur Literature Festival)