Beginning as a segment of the Jaipur Heritage International Festival in 2006, the event became a literature festival in 2008. As we look forward to the eighth fest, a rewind of its past editions and the writers that passed through its gates.
Stars: Michael Ondaatje, Amy Chua, Ben Okri, Richard Dawkins
Talking points: Rushdie is coming…no, he is not… Police search for writers Ruchir Joshi, Jeet Thayil, Hari Kunzru and Amitava Kumar who read excerpts from The Satanic Verses, banned in India.
Writer-speak: “The Nobel Prize to Obama was a prize for not being George Bush.”
David Remnick, Editor, The New Yorker
Stars: Nobel winners Orhan Pamuk, JM Coetzee, 7 Booker Prize winners
Talking points: Arab Spring, Sufi literature; Pakistani HM Naqvi’s Home Boy wins the first DSC prize for South Asian literature.
Writer-speak: “As you reach 50, life starts thinning out, the past becomes a huge presence since it’s bigger than your future.”
Martin Amis, Author, London Fields
Stars: Wole Soyinka, Niall Ferguson, Vikram Chandra
Talking points: Nandita Puri’s ‘no-holds-barred’ biography on her actor husband, Om Puri’s other meaningful relationships; Nigerian Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka speaks of “his gods.”
Writer-speak: “We have to be careful in places like Ireland and India to consign something to history. It can come up from behind and bite us.”
Roddy Doyle, Author, Paddy Clarke Ha Ha
Stars: Sheldon Pollock, Basharat Peer, Pico Iyer, Pankaj Mishra
Talking points: Amitabh Bachchan at the launch of a book on his memorabilia criticises Slumdog Millionaire; Mohammed Hanif on how he created his ‘own Zia-ul-Haq’ for A Case of Exploding Mangoes.
Writer-speak: “Poems are notes and one doesn’t keep notes on notes.”
Vikram Seth, Author, A Suitable Boy
Stars: Ian McEwan, Uday Prakash, Fatima Bhutto
Talking point: Nayantara Sahgal, recounting a dinner table conversation between her mother Vijaylakshmi Pandit and Winston Churchill: “‘We killed your husband [he died in a Lucknow prison in 1944], didn’t we? My mother calmly replied: ‘Not at all. People die when their time comes.’”
Writer-speak: “When there’s a tank outside your house, you notice it…I insisted my father sign a contract for the publication of my first collection of poems. The next day he was murdered.”
Fatima Bhutto, Author, Whispers from the Desert
Stars: Salman Rushdie, Kiran Desai, Suketu Mehta
Talking points: Baby Halder, a domestic worker in conversation with her publisher, Urvashi Butalia; Jerry Pinto discusses his Helen biography.
Writer-speak: “Elephants and snake-charmers still sell. But the new voices of India are also global. Of the 13 stories in Rana Dasgupta’s Tokyo Cancelled, only one is set in India.”
Marc Parent, editor, Buchet Chastel