A stellar show

Sakal Times
Saturday, 2 February 2019

Here’s a round-up of the recently concluded Jaipur Literature Festival, where you could hear, spot the who’s who of the literary world

The annual pilgrimage at Jaipur which celebrates the written word and its creators, this year saw first time novelists, veteran wordsmiths, literature lovers and publishers rubbing shoulders with each other. Colson Whitehead, A J Finn, Jeremy Paxman Germaine Greer, Ben Okri, Jeffrey Archer were some of the international writers of repute, whose sessions were much looked forward to at the recently concluded 12th edition of  Zee Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF).

Okri was cheered with a big round of applause when he came up on stage to discuss ‘Where does fiction come from?’. He opined that writers have to be wild. “By wild I don’t mean getting drunk and wasted. But experiencing life in its raw, rough edges and rich sensation. Writing comes from experience, deep instinct,” said Okri.

Gulzar, a JLF regular, had sessions with his daughter and filmmaker, Meghana Gulzar and Nasreen Munni Kabir. They were met with a hushed awe. Another Bollywood celebrity, Manisha Koirala was there to promote her book, Healed. In a discussion with Sanjoy Roy, managing director of the festival, the actor said, “When I was sick, I was searching for positive stories. I could not get many stories, except the success story of (actor) Lisa Ray and (cricketer) Yuvraj Singh, who came out fighting successfully with cancer. So I decided that when I recover (from ovarian cancer), I will share my stories with people. I also believe that sharing helps lower the burden from your head and heart. Hence, I wrote the book.” 

Narratives of Islam, Mughals and their contribution to India were also popular sessions, with people queuing up to get a seat at the venues. Mythologist Devdutt Pattanaik, who spoke on ‘Shyam: Retelling the Bhagvata’, engaged his audience with his witty observations linking the episodes from Bhagvata Purana to contemporary situations. 

English author Jeffrey Archer is known for his best-selling works; he also knows how to throw a catchy phrase or two to keep his readers hanging on to every word from his mouth. His session, Heads you win, would have been a sold-out if it was a ticketed event; his was a complete knock-out performance, peppered with insights about his writing process. 

As an aside, the twitter handle @JLFInsider and the sharply witty and quirky observations that it made on the going-ons at the festival was followed keenly too.

1. (from left) Congress leader Salman Khurshid, author and historian Rana Safvi, anthropologist and social historian Zulfikar Hirji and American author and journalist Max Rodenbeck speak on ‘Islam - Multiple Histories’
2. Manbooker award winner Ben Okri was a part of session - Where does fiction come from?
3. Lyricist-poet Gulzar participated in two sessions at JLF.One was with his daughter, Meghna Gulzar who has written a book on him - Because He Is. He also collaborated with Nasreen Munni Kabir for her book - Jiya Jale
4. Devdutt Pattanaik engrosses the audience with his retelling of Shyama in Bhagvata Purana
5. Manisha Koirala was at JLF to launch and promote her book, Healed. Here she is seen with Sanjoy Roy, managing director of Jaipur Literature Festival
6. Jeffrey Archer was in Jaipur to promote his book, Heads you win
(photo captions)

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