I felt and behaved like a child left at a candy store. I didn’t know what to leave, what to grab and what to take with me. The 8th edition of Jaipur Literature Festival had so much to offer that after a while I quietly cried with happiness and with being overwhelmed. 245000 people entered the free literature festival trying to soak in every word spoken their idols. The pink, blue, saffron and lime green tents guarded us from the rain and sun, but even if it didn’t, no one would have moved, no one even blinked; in case they missed a moment of their literary Gods.
Notable session of the Festival included two packed sessions each for Nobel laureate Sir V.S.Naipaul and former President of India, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. The two speakers drew the biggest audience at the Rajnigandha Front Lawn with 5,000 excited book-lovers per event. Other highlights over the five days included Man Booker Prize winner Eleanor Catton, renowned travel writer Paul Theroux, legends of the silver screen Waheeda Rehman, Naseeruddin Shah and Shabana Azmi as well as leading novelists Sarah Waters, Kamila Shamsie, Amit Chaudhuri and Eimear McBride. This year the Festival awarded three prizes, including the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, which was won Jhumpa Lahiri, the Ojas Art Award which was presented to Bhajju Shyam and Venkat Raman Singh Shyam, as well as the Khushwant Singh Memorial Prize for Poetry which was awarded to poet Arundhathi Subramaniam for her work When God is a Traveller. The festival once again brought together a plurality of speakers from across the political, social, religious, artistic, and national divide, to create a cultural forum for discussion; unrivalled in South Asia today. The festival also championed freedom of creative expression with daily drawings from DNA newspaper’s Chief Cartoonist, Manjul – prompting discussion and debate over the rights and responsibility of writers and artists in the current climate.
With team blabberCat I reached Jaipur on the second day of the festival due to continuous delay of flights. To summarise our experience I will discuss just a few with you curious readers.
Wanderlust and the art of Travel writing – Travel Writing is one of the Most Ancient Forms of Literature, but does it have any
relevance in the age of the internet, globalisation and Google Maps? Travel writers
Paul Theroux, Charles Glass, Samanth Subramanian, Sam Miller and Christina Lamb
discuss the genre and read from their work, with William Dalrymple. In the 1980s there was a sudden burst of travel writing, but writing about travel is as old as writing.
Team BC got a close up with Shashi Tharoor has he spoke about his latest book ‘India Shastra’ and later came to witness Rajdeep Sardesai’s discussion of his book Election 2014, where he did a complete Rahul and Congress bashing for more than an hour. Well not that he spared his ‘motabhai’ PM Modi. But poor Rahul, he’s just a kid Rajdeep bhai.
Namita Gokhale, author and co-Director of the ZEE Jaipur Literatute Festival said, “Another year over and the next one just begun. My head is already teaming with ideas, themes, concepts for next year. 2016 will be our best yet!”
William Dalrymple, author and co-Director of the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival, said, “This year has been a phenomenal year. We already have Margaret Atwood, Kazuo Ishiguro, Ian McEwan, A L Kennedy and Thomas Piketty confirmed for next year – so book your travel and make your plans now for 2016!”