A ready reckoner reconnaissance of this literary jamboree
Having traversed the dusty pathways of the Jaipur Literature Festival from the ‘Mughal tent’ to the ‘Front Lawn’ last year; I am no #JLF greenhorn attendee. When you’re thrown, literally, by the milling crowd (trust me, that’s a legit use of the word!) into the throes of a ‘marked-on-your-calendar’ panel discussion, there is no escaping either the packed venue or the engaging discussion(well, mostly!)
Don’t let anyone fool you into believing that the festival sees lit-fest, selfie-junkies or ‘mela’ enthusiasts congregate at this annul mecca of reading and readers. Oh of course they do too, but I am not into judging- there’s a place for everyone. No? Make a date with your favourite sessions, ask questions at whatever gets your goat(please keep them short, though and ya, they should be questions, not a soppy ‘aap biti’). There’s plenty stimulating interaction with like-minded attendees at the fest- be open to exchanging ideas and share away. It’s as much a listening to the authors as much as it is formulating your own mind about #TBR to #TBW topics!
At this carnival of life, connoisseurs meet amateurs; aspiring authors meet seasoned writers, and of course coffee meets chai. Take your pick of the diverse offerings on the platter from AI, digital age democracy, poesy, rural economics, women in the 21stcentury to the craft of writing.
Have a see of the diverse range on offer- Gigantic and also one that gives a major FOMO if you missed one!
An astonishing-possibly impossible to encapsulate in one blogpost- array of subjects, themes and currents of the sessions, yet all enthralling and inviting! Depending on you interest of course!
In The Underground Railroad, named after Colson Whitehead’s heart-wrenching tour de force, chronicling a young slave’s adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South, which won the Pulitzer in 2016, the author makes his debut appearance in South Asia, in a conversation with novelist Kanishk Tharoor. In Nigerian writer and poet Ben Okri’s most significant novel, the Man Booker-winning The Famished Road, a young woman is arrested for speaking four simple words – ‘Who is the Prisoner?’ This question resonates throughout the novel and the answer is implicit in the revelation at the heart of the story. From Ibn Battuta’s travel textures to the forgotten soldiers of the Empire from the World Wars; from the ‘Biographer’s ball’ to Hindi ke badalte parivesh and more at this medley of art, literature and music!
Make way- the Writing process sessions are here!
There are, this time, particularly exciting sessions on the craft of the novel that include discussions with Anderw Shawn Greer (Less)! Who else is excited? Examining the actual process of producing a great and memorable novel in The Writer at Work, are five novelists from around the world – Ahdaf Soueif, Álvaro Enrigue, Colson Whitehead, Hari Kunzru and Yann Martel – belonging across Mexico to Egypt, talking about their search for inspiration with Chandrahas Choudhury. In The New York Novel, the idea of New York, the ultimate city of the displaced, where emigrants from so many different countries have converged through history, and its role as a shaper of writing destinies are discussed with writers from wildly different and much-hyphenated backgrounds — Californian-Zimbabwe, North London-Kashmiri and Illinois-Bangladeshi — NoViolet Bulawayo, Tania James and Tanwi Nandini Islam are in conversation with novelist Hari Kunzru. In the session ‘Before and After Pi’, Man Booker-winning Yann Martel, whose international bestseller Life of Pi scaled unbelievable heights, both as a novel and as a film, talks about his writing and life before and after the life-changing success of Pi, with novelist Jerry Pinto.
Had enough of books? Head to the two heritage evenings to celebrate India’s cultural diversity at the city’s iconic monuments- Jawahar Kala Kendra (JKK) and Amber Fort. A group of skilled artisans from Kutch will showcase their designs on the ramp in a showing christened- Clothing as Identity.This will be a vibrant narration of the diversity and unity found in the rich cultural traditions of Kutch through its prevalent fashions. Numerous communities from Rajasthan, Sindh, Pakistan, Persia and Africa migrated to Kutch bringing with them their traditions, costumes, culture and shaped the region’s unique identity. Presented by Craft Stories Under the Mango Tree will have the following artists and their work displayed:
Aslam Abdul Karima Khatri – Ajrakh Block Printing
Irfan Anwar Khatri – Ajrakh Block Printing
Abdul Aziz Khatri & Taina Aziz Khatri – Bandhani
Talah Gulam Khatri & Fahad Gulam Khatri – Bandhani
Kunvarben Bhikabhai Rabari – Dhebaria Rabari Embroidery
Sajnuben Pachanbhai Rabari – Dhebaria Rabari Embroidery
Rajesh Vishramji Siju – Bhujodi Weaving
Dilip Dahyalal Kudecha – Bhujodi Weaving
A Majestic Evening at the Amber Fort will bring together art, culture and heritage. The evening will begin with a performance by Folk land, International Centre for Folklore & Culture, Kerala showcasing Theyyam, a ceremonial dance from Kerala, depicting famous folk, tribal and mythological stories with music, dance and mime. A chorus of traditional musical instruments will accompany this stately dance. Following the performance, Man Booker Prize winner, acclaimed poet, novelist, essayist and playwright Ben Okriwill be on stage presenting The Griot, a new kind of live literary experience in the tradition of bards and griots, ancient story-tellers and custodians of oral traditions. Another highlight of the evening will be a recital by Sitar Ensemble, one of India’s most accomplished sitar duos: Shakir Khan and Azeem Ahmed Alvi. Shakir, son and disciple of Ustad Shahid Parvez Khan, and Alvi, a disciple of the sitar maestro, have come together to form this unique collaboration as the 8th generation representatives of the Etawah gharana Ustad Akram Khan and Hafeez Ahmed Khan will join them on the stage.
Jaipur Music Stage
No such thing as enough music! There is also this Jaipur Music Stage, which runs parallel to the grand feast of ideas and literature, that has a power-packed line-up of performances. Rooted in the heart of India but flavoured with offerings from across the globe, Jaipur Music Stage features a variety of artistes from the international spectrum showcasing a multi-genre abundance in style, sound, and history. Be it world music, ghazals, funk, rock or the Blues, the Jaipur Music Stage 2019 is a music festival like no other; embodying variety, excellence and collaboration.
The artistes performing at the Jaipur Music Stage include the earthy and soulful Nooran Sisters; leading Carnatic and world music vocalist Mahesh Vinayakram in collaboration with Dub FX (Benjamin Stanford), the ever-popular and effervescent Punjabi folk singer Jasbir Jassi in a never-seen-before collaboration with Kutle Khan, folk-rock legends Indian Ocean, violin maestro Dr. L Subramaniam, Shillong-based blues act Soulmate, and techno masters Midival Punditz.
Kickstarting the Jaipur Music Stage on 24th January will be the sonic explorations of Iranian Canadian duo Niyaz who will present their unique blend of world music, inspired by mystic Sufi sounds and Iranian folk over the bustle of modern electronica. The tempo is set to rise exponentially with an exciting collaboration, as Jasbir Jassi brings the earthy notes of Punjabi folk alongside Kutle Khan’s energetic Rajasthani folk. This will be the first time the two Indian folk heavyweights share a stage. These two exciting performances will make the evening all about the power of folk music and the fluidity of its expression.
At the end of the day, it’s what excites you as an attendee and what you glean of the five-day, pot-pourri of all things sublime. The discourse, dialogue and the discussion cannot be summed up in words- a sensory experience as much a sensibilities’ one. Make the most of it!