Jaipur Literature Festival, besides being the largest free literature festival, is a commendable forum that truly tries to capture the love and essence of authors and readers. The JLF has been an annual event since 2005. It began with 14 guests in 2006 and has grown to ginormous width that attracted over 245,000 visitors this year. In 2015, JLF is to host two other events outside India. One has already been held in Southbank, London in May, and the second is to be held at Boulder, Colorado from the 18th to the 20th of September.
The magic of the festival cannot be put into words. Authors walk around freely and mingle with the attendees and you keep on bumping into them all over the place; there is no reservation of seats (if you’re lucky enough, you may be able to snatch a seat next to one of your favourite authors while attending a talk) and book signing takes place after almost every event. They have also started hosting music events at night after the end of each day’s events (Jeet Thayli performed his music this year!)
William Dalrymple (The Last Mughal, 2006) and Namita Gokhale (The Habit of Love, 2012) have been the directors of the festival from the start. The event is held at Diggi Palace in Jaipur every year. The JLF organizers bring in a host of authors ranging from Nobel Laureates, Man Booker nominees and winners, travel writers, political writers, journalists, biographers, cartoonists and many new authors too. The mix of different authors is very nostalgic and a visitor is sure to discover something new about the world of literature and fall in love with it.
Many Indian and International authors have attended the event in the past. Kiran Desai (The Inheritance of Loss, 2006), Jeet Thayli (Narcopolis, 2012), Girish Karnad(Agni Mattu Male, 1995), Devdutt Pattanaik (The Pregnant King, 2006), Shobhaa De (Starry Nights, 1989), Vikram Seth (A Suitable Boy, 1993), Shashi Tharoor (India Shastra: Reflections on the Nation in our Time, 2015) and Chetan Bhagat (Half Girlfriend, 2014) are some of the Indian writers that have attended the event as speakers in the past. Indian origin authors like Salman Rushdie and VS Naipaul have also featured as guest speakers.
JLF promotes not only Indian writers but also Asian, African and other Western writers. Chinese writers like Jung Chang (Wild Swans, 1992) and Anchee Min (Red Azalea, 1994) attended the JLF this year. Tshering Tashi from Bhutan, Gordon Levy (Isreal) and Nassim Nicholas Taleb (Lebanese-American Financial analyst) were some of the other Asian writers who have attended the event in the past. Eleanor Catton (TheLuminaries, 2013), Elizabeth Gilbert (EatPrayLove, 2006), Nicholoson Baker (Vox, 1992), Jenny Uglow (The Lunar Men, 2002) and Ian McEwan (Amsterdam, 1998) are some of the English writers that have attended the JLF in the past.
JLF is truly the most amazing literature festival one could ever attend. The panels are very invigorating, and intellectuals who transform you with their knowledge surround you. It is not only novelists who are invited to speak, painters like Shakti Burman, famous Indian Art critic and curator, Alka Pande, and actor Naseeruddin Shah, poet and lyricist Javed Akhtar have contributed to the magic of JLF. The bookstore at JLF is always crowded with Indians as well as foreigners attending the annual event. The old city of Jaipur adds to the beauty of the whole experience of JLF. Visitors to the fest usually take time off to roam around Chokhi Dhaani, Hawa Mahal, Amer Fort and City Palace.
Though the confirmed list of the speakers for 2016 is not out yet, the organizers have given a tentative list of speaker’s that may come to the event. Neel Mukherjee (The Lives of Others, 2014), Canadian writer Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid’s Tale, 1985), Man Booker winner Ian McEwan (Amsterdam, 1998; Atonement, 2001), Kazuo Ishiguro (Never Let Me Go, 2005), 2015 Man Booker Panel Chair Marina Warner, Pulitzer Prize winner of The Hours, Michael Cunningham, Oscar winner Tilda Swinton and Indian director Mahesh Bhatt are all tentative speakers for JLF 2016 which will be held at the start of the year in January.
The Jaipur Literature Festival is gaining popularity every year not only in India but aboard too. The organizers have already started facing space constraints. 5000 visitors attended Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam’s talk this year at the fest. The organizers of the festival have come up with a fantastic idea that has now become one of the most anticipated fests in India and I can’t wait for JLF 2016.
Image Source: The Viewspaper