It was virtual, but attendees vouch for the evergreen sheen of Jaipur Lit Fest
Renowned academic and writer, Harish Trivedi, hits the nail on the head when he says, “I think the very mention of Jaipur Lit Fest (JLF) and the tradition of JLF energises one even when there is no live audience before one. When one is interacting, one still remembers the deep memory of what the JLF has brought us over the years and that is with us even when we are sitting at home and talking to just a couple of other persons.” Recalling the tradition of JLF, Namita Gokhale, celebrated author and co-director of the festival, says, “We had glamour, we had fun, we had joy, we had anger, we had protests! What in the Sanskrit tradition is called the ‘Navras’, where every human emotion is reflected upon.”
Amazon.in as online sales partner
Amazon India joined hands with the festival as its online sales partner. Earlier speaking at the start of festival about the collaboration, Pragya Sharma, director, category management, Amazon India, shared, “We at Amazon.in, strive to build the love for reading and learning. We are excited to partner with Jaipur Literature Festival as their official online book store. We continue to build a strong portfolio of books providing customers with vast selection and an unmatched shopping experience. Customers on Amazon.in can access a wide range of titles launched by bestselling authors during Jaipur Literature Festival 2021 on the specially curated store here.”
Online literary series of conversations
Over the years, the JLF has indeed presented book lovers and bibliophiles with a rainbow of rich experiences. Which is why is seemed a shame to let it pass this year because of the pandemic. “We decided that we wouldn’t allow the pandemic to stop us in our tracks and out of this was born ‘JLF’s Brave New World’ (an online literary series of conversations between renowned writers and thinkers around the globe). A 160 episodes later with 4.8 million views, to people who came online to view and listen to our incredible speakers from across the world, we were able to continue in our tradition of ensuring the free flow of knowledge and information,” shares Sanjay K Roy, MD, Teamwork Arts.
- Mehreen Chida-Razvi, Art Historian: I am always amazed at the scope of the Jaipur Literature Festival; how much is covered. It feels like there truly is something for everyone. People who are interested in authors and books, but also the people who are interested in culture on a much wider scale."
- Peter Frankopan, Writer and Historian: January is my favourite time of year, not because it’s cold here in England and it’s normally raining, but because I get, sometimes, an opportunity to come and talk to the visitors to the Jaipur Literature Festival, all the other authors, the organisers – it feels like home to me. So, I’m sorry that we’re doing this all on Zoom. I hope we will get back to normal as before. The joy and the buzz of arriving into Jaipur is just such a pleasure…”-
- Pranay Lal, Writer and Biochemist: "I love the atmosphere of JLF. There are events from the crack of dawn until the wee hours. The festival is lively and engaging and I return to my desk buzzing with new ideas and energy. I look forward to coming back to it every year!"-
- Rana Safvi, Writer and Historian: Jaipur Literature Festival is somewhere I had a wonderful experience and I’m so glad that it’s continued, even if it’s in a digital avatar. Hopefully it will be back, again in Jaipur next year and I look forward to that. I look forward to all the sessions in this digital avatar also.
- Homi K. Bhabha – Scholar and Critical Theorist: People meet, issues of every kind are discussed, there is a remarkable art performance area, there’s remarkable music. You know, in the best sense and in the most exuberant sense, Jaipur is a mela - a mela of ideas, a mela of remarkable beauty, a mela of architecture, a mela of people.
- Annie Zaidi, Writer: I have very beautiful memories since the early days, amongst them one of the most beautiful things was accidental conversations with like-minded people, just bumping into people you don’t know at all and start talking to them about a book or a writer.
- Prasoon Joshi, Poet, Lyricist & Communication specialist: I have so many memories of the Festival. I have been part of Jaipur Literature Festival for more than a decade and seen it grow into this wonderful festival of ideas that attracts some truly interesting minds. I have been there for most years, sometimes sitting in the audience, sometimes being on the stage. I have actually tested so many of my poems and thoughts at Jaipur Literature Festival. The audience and peer reaction helped me calibrate के इनमें दम है कि नहीं है | And hone and chisel my craft. I can never forget what Jaipur Literature Festival means to me as an artist. Appreciation, inspiration, and learning - I would always cherish those moments.”-
The greatest literary show on earth
From 100 attendees in its inaugural year to more than 400,000 literature enthusiasts in 2019, JLF has been bringing together bookworms and litterateurs from around the world for over a decade. According to Sandeep Unnithan, author and executive editor, India Today, “The Jaipur Literature Festival has set a benchmark in terms of where literature fests ought to be.”
This year, as a safety measure, the literary extravaganza took place from February 19–28 on an exclusive virtual platform. The live virtual sessions offered a variety of themes ranging from ‘Technology and AI’, ‘Politics and History’ to ‘Environment and Climate Change’, ‘Poetry and Music’ to ‘Food and Literature’ being discussed by celebrity guests. The 14th edition of JLF featured over 300 speakers and performers representing over 23 nationalities as well as major literary awards ranging from the Nobel, the Man Booker, the Pulitzer, the Sahitya Akademi, DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, and the JCB Prize for Literature.
The start studded festival saw book launches such as the play, Betrayed by Hope, co-authored by Namita Gokhale and Malashri Lal, which follows the chequered life of Bengal’s 19th century poet and literary giant, Michael Madhusudan Dutt. In a fascinating session of readings and discussion, Gokhale and Lal were seen in conversation with actor and multidisciplinary artist, Oroon Das, exploring the paradoxes of Dutt’s life and work.
The festival also hosted eminent business magnate and co-founder of Microsoft Corporation, Bill Gates; American economist, public policy analyst and Nobel Laureate, Joseph Stiglitz; Pakistani activist for female education and Nobel Laureate, Malala Yousafzai; Man Booker Prize-winning author, Douglas Stuart; journalist and Pulitzer awardee, Jeffrey Gettleman; celebrated author and Member of Parliament, Shashi Tharoor, to name just a few. Celebrity actor Priyanka Chopra Jonas was also seen in conversation with bestselling author and columnist, Shobha Dee.