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Jaipur fest begins with Rushdie mystery

India's biggest literary festival will have top authors and their fans taking about books for the next four days. But the show is overshadowed by one writer who may not even turn up.

books Updated: Jan 20, 2012 06:38 IST

Today, all roads in the pink city lead to Diggi Palace, which prides itself as the literary hotspot during the DSC Jaipur Literary Festival.

The 'Kumbh mela of Indian and International writing' began amidst a much-hyped controversy around Salman Rushdie's visit.The magnificent palace -- a centuries-old mansion-turned hotel -- was decked up like a bride in myriad colours.

In the opening note, Namita Ghokle welcomed everyone and emphasised on this year's theme. "There is a special empahsis on the Bhakti and Sufi poets who illuminated the literarure of medieval South Asia, from Kabir and Meera Bai to Rumi and Shams Tabrizi. Like the indomitable crowds of the Arab Spring, the poet saints searched for social justice and the dignity of the individual. The high art of Sanskrit classicicsmyeidled to the voices of common people, of weavers and washermnen, theives and prostitutes, confrointing their times and establishsing a direct connection with their personal divinity," said Gokhale.

"I'm so excited to be back again, I can hardly wait to hear Michael Ondaatje and Hari Kunzru. The organisers have brought together such a great variety of authors, the sessions would undoubtedly be very good," chirped Manvi Batra, a lit-fest regular.

Vinod Kumar Sharma travelled to Jaipur from Lucknow, to know his favourite Indian authors, "Most people are here for international authors but I'm not here for the firangs. If I want a taste of English writing I would go to Edinburgh; here I want to enjoy Gulzar saab's poetry and attend the session on Ardh Satya: Kuch Ankahi Kahaaniya."

Author William Dalrymple thanked the people for once again coming to the festival, and chose to cut his speech short as everyone is here was to 'hear the authors not speeches'.

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