One of India’s biggest literature festivals with such major stars as Salman Rushdie and Kiran Desai kicks off on Thursday at Jaipur. Billed as a ‘festival within a festival’, the literature festival forms part of the Jaipur Heritage International Festival which began on January 13 and runs through January 22.
The three-day festival ‘aims to promote and encourage a love of literature by bringing authors and readers together,” says festival director Mita Kapur. Adds author Namita Gokhale, an advisor to the festival, “What’s very exciting for me personally is the blurring of lines between Hindi and English, mainstream and regional.”
The line-up includes Urdu poets, writers from Pakistan and best-seller writers in Hindi and English. Also included are publishers and literary agents including the celebrated David Godwin who is Vikram Seth and Arundhati Roy’s agent.
The festival kicks off with a session with Baby Halder who shot to fame last year with A Life Less Ordinary, an account of her experiences as a domestic worker in Delhi.
The first day will also see sessions by Marathi and English writer Kiran Nagarkar (God’s Little Warrior); Christopher Kremmer (the former Delhi correspondent of the Australian Broadcasting Commission) who will speak about his recent book, Inhaling the Mahatma; William Dalrymple, the Delhi-based author of The Last Mughal and a poetry reading session where Keki Daruwala, Jeet Thayil and Jane Bhandari will read from the works of Dom Moraes, Nissim Ezekiel and Arun Kolatkar.
The readings also includes Seematini Raghav who will read excerpts from works by her father, the well-known Hindi author Range Raghav. Across the border representation will include a performance on violence against women by Feryal Ali Gauhar.
Winner of the Man Booker prize for her novel, The Inheritance of Loss, Kiran Desai features on the second day of the festival. Suketu Mehta whose Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found won the Kiriyama Prize and made it to the final list for the 2005 Pulitzer will also feature on the second day. The festival’s biggest star, Salman Rushdie will interact with NDTV’s Barkha Dutt on the final day.
The literature festival also features a range of performances from qawallis to electronica.