Festivals of Literature

Festivals of Literature

Madhavi Singh

Absolutely addicted to living and intrigued by what's round the bend. People make for good reading, but birds, beasts, and natural beauty have so much more presence. In my other avatar, I'm the head ninja of DK Travel India.
March 26, 2015

I have to admit I am an intrepid Lit Fester. There are so many Fests to look forward to in the year – “Mountain Echoes,” the Bhutan Literary Festival; Goa Art and Literary Festival, Khushwant Singh Literary Festival at Kasauli; Kumaon Literary Festival at Dhanachuli, and much more...

But the Jaipur event is my literary fix for the year. It continues to be my window to the world of people's lives, history, politics, humour, and poetry. Above all, it is where I get to hear real freedom of speech, in lucid, informed, and “literary” language – an increasing rarity in the 21st century, which is, sadly, becoming the age of short-cuts in every way.

So yes, the crowds were excessive and you either shouldered and shoved your way through, single-mindedly forging ahead like a horse with blinkers on, or you just had to crane your neck above layers of standing enthusiasts to hear some of the more “popular” authors... many from the film world: Javed Akhtar, Naseeruddin Shah, Waheeda Rahman, et al. BUT then, there were the Literary Stalwarts: VS Naipaul, Paul Theroux, Hanif Kureishi, BN Goswami, and of course, William Dalrymple himself.

For me, a worker bee caught in the nine-to-five trap, there are always so many I would not have the chance to see and listen to, even in Delhi. This year there was Anchee Min with her devastatingly frank autobiographical expose of China during the cultural revolution; Jeremy Brotton on his fascinating A History of the World in Twelve Maps; Damon Galgut in Arctic Summer (on E M Forster) and on Africa; Adam Johnson on his The Orphan Master's Son, a remarkable insight on the enigma that is North Korea; Basharat Peer, Ahmed Rashid, and Ahmed Kasuri on Pakistan. I heard about The Power of Myth; The Buddhas of Bamiyan; Sophia Duleep Singh: Princess, Suffragette, Revolutionary; Shakespeare and the Moors; The First Firangis in a Strange Kind of Paradise; The Simpsons and their Mathematical Secrets...

Oh! So much. Impossible to mention all. JLF is always an embarrassment of riches.

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