Countdown to Jaipur lit fest begins

New Delhi, Dec 4 (IANS) With a dazzling array of 222 authors and key themes like migration, privacy and conflict, the countdown for the ninth edition of the Jaipur Literature Festival began here on Thursday night.

Starting on a note of music, dialogue and discussion, the glittering functionm held at the Taj Mahal Hotel, presented a precursor of the mammoth five–day festival. Packed with publishers, authors and supporters of the festival, and the literati, the curtain raiser gave a glimpse of the much awaited festival, scheduled to be held January 21-25, 2016.

Among the international authors, the spotlight will be on poet, novelist and essayist Margaret Atwood; this yearÂ’s Man Booker Prize winner Marlon James; IrelandÂ’s greatest living writer Colm Toibin; French economist and global voice on wealth and income inequality Thomas Piketty; and the world’s greatest living travel writer, Colin Thubron, among many others.

“Each year at Jaipur, we try to produce a programme more remarkable than the year before, but this year has to be our most astonishing line-up ever. Among the international authors, we present writers of genius as diverse as economist Thomas Picketty and humourist and polymath Stephen Fry. We deeply delve into three areas of world literature we have so far failed to explore – notably the novelists and poets of the Balkans, the Caribbean and Central America – while returning to examine eternal classics such as the work of Shakespeare, Proust and Andal,” said writer and festival co-director William Dalrymple.

The stellar line up of Indian authors include the most beloved and prolific storyteller Ruskin Bond, the most celebrated psychoanalyst and author Sudhir Kakar and Hindi journalist, poet and novelist Uday Prakash, one of the leading figures in modern Indian literature.

This year, literature lovers can also expect more regional fare, said Dalrymple. The marginalised section will be represented by activist and writer Bant Singh, whose tragic and inspiring story of resistance to the atrocities he suffered as a Dalit is a story of empowerment as well as a mirror to the fault lines in a still feudal society.

“This edition, my new metaphor for JLF is that of the KathaSaritSagar, the sea of stories. At a time when our nation and indeed the world is taking up fixed and rigid positions, the Jaipur Festival is steadfast in upholding the value of dialogue, of responsible debate, of the free exploration of ideas, of listening in as well as speaking out,” said writer and festival co-director Namita Gokhale.

Setting the agenda for international dialogue, the highly topical issue of Migration in the Chronicles of Exile will examine alienation and acceptance, across political, cultural and geographical landscapes.

The session titled ‘Manto and the Pity of Partition’ will recount one of the greatest migrations of human history through the works of Saadat Hasan Manto, arguably one of the greatest chroniclers of the trauma of partition.

The evolving issue of privacy will also feature prominently in a series of sessions curated by Homi K. Bhabha with sessions including ‘The Fiction of Privacy: Drawing the Line’ which will see journalists and non-fiction writers discuss their daily battle with issues of privacy, both philosophical and legal. The session ‘Total Recall: The End of Privacy’ looks at whether privacy is dead forever.

Other themes include environment, conflict and the middle east, oral traditions and poetry, translation and bilingualities, travel Writing¸ war-front reporting, mythology, history and art, among others.

The evening also saw a panel discussion on the topic ‘The Need to Listen – Dialogue versus Rhetoric’. Moderated by Sanjoy Roy, the participants included former diplomat author and Rajya Sabha MP Pavan Verma, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor and former TV journalist and politician Shazia Ilmi. Columnist Sudheendra Kulkarni and Gaddi Nashin of the Ajmer Sharif Dargah Syed Salman Chishti also participated in the discussion.

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