Colin Thubron or David Grossman? Stephen Fry or Niall Ferguson. The Jaipur Literature Festival 2016 has some powerful names. So will you be picking Margaret Atwood over Thomas Piketty? A list of the most interesting sessions at the festival may help you make up your mind. So here, in no particular order, are our recommendations of sessions that promise to provide much sustenance to the book lover’s soul:
A Brief History of Seven Killings: Man Booker Prize 2015 winner Marlon James will talk about his book on the attempt on the life of Rastafarian musical icon Bob Marley with author Patrick French. Expect much talk about gang warfare and slices of Caribbean history.
Negroland: Named by the New York Times as one of the most influential books of 2015, Margo Jefferson’s memoir chronicles a lifetime as a member of Chicago’s black elite, a world the author calls Negroland. Jefferson will be discussing her book, among other subjects, with journalist Marrie Brenner. Because, Black lives matter!
Deep Blue: Towards a First Maritime History of Our Planet from Neanderthals to Phoenicians, Polynesians and Our Future: World-renowned archaeologist Irving Finkel, the author of the bestselling The Ark Before Noah, and the curator of cuneiform inscriptions from ancient Mesopotamia at the British Museum in London, discusses an explored chapter of our evolution with archaeologist and author Cyprian Broodbank. JLF founder William Dalyrymple is looking forward to attending this session. So are we.
The Global Novel: Margaret Atwood, who won a Man Booker for The Blind Assassin in 2000, will be in conversation with Irish writer Colm Tóibín. Others who will be part of the conversation include David Grossman, Alexander Hemon, Sulaiman Addonia and Sunjeev Sahota, of The Year of the Runaways fame, which was shortlisted for the 2015 Man Booker Prize. For those, who still care about the novel!
Ballad of Bant Singh: In 2000, Dalit activist Bant Singh took a group of village landlords to court over the gang rape of his daughter, ensuring life imprisonment for the perpetrators. Now leading an amputee’s life after surviving an attack on his life, the indomitable activist will be in conversation with Dalit writer Desraj Kali and journalist, writer and translator Nirupama Dutt. The session promises to be heart-wrenching and inspiring at the same time.
The Healers: Surgeon Atul Gawande is also one of the most respected names in medical writing. Aarathi Prasad and Gavin Francis will pick his brains on the mysteries of the human body and the power of healing. One for science fiends!
The Travel Session: in a session moderated by William Dalrymple, writers Colin Thubron, Anthony Sattin, Salil Tripathi, Gerard Russell, Alex Shoumatoff and Christina Lamb will recount tales of travel and share stories of wanderlust. The raconteur in me is looking forward to listening to some old fashioned tales of charting unknown terrain.
India At Play: Seasoned cricket writer Suresh Menon and Sidin Vadakut, humour writer and journalist will chat to former India football captain Baichung Bhutia and spin legend Anil Kumble about games Indians play. Joining them in the talkathaon will be Ranojoy Sen, the author of Nation At Play: A History of Sport in India. For the sports aficionado.
An Unsuitable Boy: Hindustan Times Brunch Editor Poonam Saxena, who is writing a biography of Karan Johar, and Stardust founding editor and columnist Shobhaa De discuss the filmmaker’s loves and lives. Coffee Table conversation with Karan, anybody?
Outside In, Inside Out: Decoding India’s Visual Culture: Photographer and Indophile Steve McCurry engages into a freewheeling discussion on our visual culture with restorer Aman Nath, curator Alka Pande, Sahapedia founder Sudha Gopalakrishnan, and Vidya Dehejia, Professor of Indian and South Asian Art at Columbia University. Definitely one for the connoisseur.