In barely two weeks to go the country is going to witness the sixth annual DSC Jaipur Literature Festival. Scheduled from 24th to 28th January, 2013, at Diggi Palace in Jaipur, the biggest literature fest in India will see the heavyweights of the literary world congregate to celebrate a world of words. As always, this time around too, the international list of authors participating at the festival is the most cerebral, intellectually-stimulating and high-powered ever fielded.
In fiction this year, DSC Jaipur Literature Festival will host Commonwealth Prize winner Aminatta Forna from Sierra Leone, Booker Prize winner Howard Jacobson, two Orange Prize winners Linda Grant and Madeline Miller, and Abraham Verghese (amid the best-selling writers of Indian origin in the US).
Ahdaf Soueif and Tahar Ben Jalloun, two of the most respected novelists in the Arab world, are other equally awaited authors. Closer home, the festival welcomes back two of Pakistan’s most celebrated wunderkinds, Nadeem Aslam and Mohammad Hanif even as it look forward to introducing Jamil Ahmad to the Indian audience.
From Chile comes Ariel Dorfman, the playwright and celebrated author of Death and the Maiden. Indian audiences will for the first time rub shoulders with our historical novelist, Lawrence Norfolk, and three of Britain’s most popular literary writers, Sebastian Faulks, Deborah Moggach and Zoë Heller, whose award-winning books have been adapted into the highly acclaimed movies Birdsong, The Exotic Marigold Hotel and Notes on a Scandal. Representing the genre of poetry are two of the greatest poets in Europe, Simon Armitage and John Burnside.
The non-fiction list is especially strong this year. The fest has no less than three winners of the Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction speaking: Frank Dikkoter on Mao, Wade Davis on Everest and Orlando Figes on Stalin’s purges. Pulitzer winner Andrew Solomon will speak on his remarkable new book, Far From the Tree.
From Harvard we have Diana Eck, whose book India: A Sacred Geography has been one of the hits of the year, the philosopher Michael Sandel who brings his popular BBC Radio 4 series, The Public Philosopher, to Jaipur and the leading cultural theorist, Homi Bhabha. From Columbia comes the much-revered post-colonial and post-modern literary critic and thinker Gayatri Chakrovorty Spivak. From Oxford comes acclaimed authority on Eastern Europe, Timothy Garton Ash and the Shakesperian Christopher Ricks.
Among other things, the Jaipur Literature Festival presents three of the world’s most acclaimed artists in conversation: Anish Kapoor, Marc Quinn and William Kentridge. Then there’s Nandan Nilekani who will be discussing Breakout Nations with Ruchir Sharma, author of this year’s bestselling book of non-fiction. Other exciting speakers you should lend your ears to include respected essayists like Elif Batuman of the New Yorker, Pico Iyer of Time Magazine and Tim Parks and Ian Buruma of the New York Review of Books.
On a lighter note to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the James Bond films the festival has a special session featuring Sebastian Faulks, who wrote the latest book in the franchise, Devil May Care, and Ian Fleming’s biographer Andrew Lycett.
Sharing his enthusiasm Festival Co-Director William Dalrymple said, “It’s going to be an absolutely extraordinary five days and I only wish it were possible to clone oneself so that one could attend five sessions simultaneously.”