Jaipur Literature Festival

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Jaipur Literature Festival
Logo of the jaipur literature festival.png
Genre Literary festival
Dates 21–25 January 2015
Location(s) Diggi Palace, Jaipur, India
Years active 2006 – present

The Jaipur Literature Festival is an annual literary festival[1] which takes place in the Indian city of Jaipur each January. It was founded in 2006, and from 2008 has been produced by Teamwork Arts. 2016 is the ninth edition of the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival. [2] The world's largest free literary Festival,[3] it was described by Miranda Seymour in the Mail on Sunday of 10 August 2008 as "the grandest literary Festival of them all".

The Diggi Palace Hotel serves as the main venue of the festival with sessions held in the Hall of Audience and throughout the gardens of the Diggi Palace in the city centre, providing a beautiful cultural heritage backdrop to the Festival. As the largest FREE literary festival on earth, JLF brings together some of the greatest thinkers and writers from across South Asia and the world in a celebration excellence in Rajasthani, Indian and International writing. From Nobel laureates to local language writers, Man Booker prize winners to debut novelists, every January the most remarkable, witty, sensitive and brilliant collection of authors come together for five days of readings, debates and discussions in the Rajasthani capital.

The festival directors are the writers Namita Gokhale and William Dalrymple and it is produced by Sanjoy Roy of Teamwork Arts. Surina Narula is the Founder Sponsor and Festival Advisor for the literature festival. The Festival is an Initiative of the Jaipur Virasat Foundation founded by Faith Singh,[4] originally as a segment of the Jaipur Heritage International Festival in 2006, and developed into a free-standing festival of literature standing on its own feet in 2008. JLF is now regarded as a cultural catalyst within India and around the world, exposing audiences to a constant flow of ideas and ensuring all voices are heard. Featuring live music sessions and interactive workshops, the Festival provides a space to dare, dream and imagine.[1] JVF's Community Director Vinod Joshi is its regional advisor. All events at the festival are free and not ticketed.

The festival gained international media attention in 2012, because of a number of events related to Salman Rushdie and the Satanic Verses controversy. In recent years it always attracts a huge amount of press attention which is largely positive covering the world-class authors and their session topics. It has also faced some media criticism on perceptions of elitism, irrelevance, commercialization of literature and dependence on celebrities.[5]

History, Timeline[edit]


The 2006 inaugural Jaipur Literature Festival had 18 writers including Hari Kunzru, William Dalrymple, Shobhaa De and Namita Gokhale and 14 others.[6] It drew a crowd of about 100 attendees, including some who "appeared to be tourists who had simply got lost," according to the event's co-director William Dalrymple.[7]


In 2007 the festival grew in size and featured Salman Rushdie, Kiran Desai, Suketu Mehta, Shashi Deshpande, and William Dalrymple.


In 2008 the festival continued to expand with about 2,500 attendees[8] and the following authors/speakers: Ian McEwan, Donna Tartt, John Berendt, Paul Zacharia, Indra Sinha, Uday Prakash, Christopher Hampton, Manil Suri, Miranda Seymour


The 2009 festival had about 12,000 attendees[9] and over 140[9] authors/speakers including Vikram Seth, Pico Iyer, Michael Ondaatje, Simon Schama, Tina Brown, Hanif Kureshi, Hari Kunzru, Pankaj Mishra, Tariq Ali, Ahmed Rashid, Patrick French, Mohsin Hamid, Mohammed Hanif, Sunil Gangopadhyay, Tarun Tejpal, Sashi Tharoor, U R Ananthmurthy, Alka Saraogi, Anuragh Mathur, Ashok Vajpayi, Asish Nandy, Basharat Peer, Charles Nicoll, Christophe Jafferlot, Colin Thubron, Daniyal Mueenudin, Geetanjali Shree, Mukul Kesavan, Musharraf Ali Farooqui, Narayana Rao, Nikita Lalwani, Paul Zacharia, Pavan K Varma, Rana Dasgupta, S R Faruqui, Tariq Ali, Tash Aw, Udayan Vajpayi, Farah Khan and Sonia Faleiro, with music provided by DJ Cheb i Sabbah, Nitin Sawney, and Paban Das Baul. The special theme was the oral tradition, in India and elsewhere.[9]


The 2010 festival had about 30,000 attendees[10] and 172 authors/speakers, including Geoff Dyer, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Jamaica Kincaid, Niall Ferguson, Vikram Chandra and Hemant Shesh.[11]


Gulzar, Javed Akhtar, and Prasoon Joshi at Jaipur Literature Festival 2011

The 2011 festival had 226 writers like Hemant Shesh, Prasoon Joshi, Javed Akhtar, Gulzar /speakers, including Nobel-winners J.M. Coetzee and Orhan Pamuk.[12]


Salman Rushdie cancelled his complete tour of India citing possible threats to his life as the primary reason

The 2012 festival was held from 20–24 January, with the talk show host Oprah Winfrey and author Salman Rushdie among the names announced in advance.[13] Rushdie later cancelled, and indeed cancelled his complete tour of India citing possible threats to his life as the primary reason.[3][14][15] Rushdie investigated police reports that hitmen had been hired to assassinate him and implied that the police might have exaggerated the potential danger.[16]

Meanwhile, police seek Ruchir Joshi, Jeet Thayil, Hari Kunzru and Amitava Kumar who have fled Jaipur on the advice of officials at the Jaipur Literature Festival after reading excerpts from The Satanic Verses, which is banned in India.[17] Kunzru later wrote, "Our intention was not to offend anyone's religious sensibilities, but to give a voice to a writer who had been silenced by a death threat".[18]

A proposed video link session between Rushdie and the Jaipur Literature Festival ran into difficulty after the government pressured the festival to stop it.[16]

Rushdie expressed disappointment "on behalf of India", "an India in which religious extremists can prevent free expression of ideas at a literary festival, in which the politicians are too, let's say, in bed with those groups...for narrow electoral reasons, in which the police forces are unable to secure venues against demonstrators even when they know the demonstration is on its way".[19][20]

The Chairman of the Press Council of India and former judge of the Supreme Court Markandey Katju said that although he was "not in favour of religious obscurantism", he found Rushdie a "poor" and "substandard writer" and the focus on him detracting from more fundamental issues of "colonial inferiority complex" among educated Indians and what a literary mission could be about.[21] Scottish novelist Allan Massie wrote, "The response to words should be words and words in the form of argument, not abuse".[22] Manoj Joshi, writing in Britain's Daily Mail, said the whole affair had brought to the fore "the contradictions of modern India. At one level, they live in a democracy that promises all the freedoms that their cherished West offers, at another, they are besieged by forces of obscurantism and violence which try to pull them back to the medieval ages in which many of our religious and political leaders live".[23] Peter Florence, Director, Hay Festivals, said the whole affair showed the importance of book festivals.[24]

On 28 January, Rushdie responded to Chetan Bhagat via Twitter after the popular writer taunted him and his work.[25]


This time the festival is scheduled from January 21–25. Earlier this year it had been reported that the tentative list of speakers this season will be 181 including VS Naipual, Chetan Bhagat and Amish Tripathi. This year the festival also expanded beyond the four walls of Diggi Palace, holding over 300 events in 10 venues, including the Music Stage at Clarks Amer, the Jaipur BookMark at Narain Niwas, and two special sessions at Amer Fort and Hawa Mahal to focus on heritage and culture, supported by Rajasthan Tourism. Notable sessions of the festival in 2015 included two packed sessions each for Nobel Laureate Sir V.S. Naipaul and former President of India, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, who drew a 5000 strong crowd to the Front Lawns of Diggi Palace.

The eighth edition of the world's largest free literary event ended on a high note with a record 245,000 footfalls over the five days. Far from the end of JLF in 2015, there is set to be two further editions of the literary extravaganza across the world - at the Southbank Centre in London this May, and then at Boulder, Colorado in the United States, later in the year.


Thursday January 21, 2016: After a long debate finally all that starts well goes well,[26] Jaipur litfest-2016 begins at the Diggi Palace as scheduled with Gair dance from Barmer, Rajasthan accompanied by a crowd who had lined up since early morning.[27]Officially Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje inaugurated the festival by lighting the ceremonial lamp, reminiscing about her childhood memories of reading books an hour later.[28]


  1. ^ a b "Writes of passage". Hindustan Times (India). 30 January 2008. Retrieved 23 April 2008. 
  2. ^ Literacy in India & the Jaipur Literature Festival, 25 January 2010. "Today [25 Jan 2010] marks the end of the 5th annual Jaipur Literature Festival .. First organized in 2005.."
  3. ^ a b Burke, Jason (20 January 2012). "Salman Rushdie pulls out of Jaipur literary festival over assassination fears". The Guardian. England. Retrieved 20 January 2012. 
  4. ^ "In the throes of joy". The Hindu (India). 20 January 2006. Retrieved 12 August 2008. 
  5. ^ Banker, Ashok (30 January 2012). "Luetic Marxists For Levite Maharajahs". Outlook India. Retrieved 2012-04-36.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  6. ^ "Pen On The Rostrum ", OutlookIndia.com, 17 April 2006
  7. ^ "Literary festival draws big stars", The Brunei Times, 1 February 2010.
  8. ^ "Review 2008". Jaipurliteraturefestival.org. Retrieved 26 January 2012. 
  9. ^ a b c "About the festival ’09". Jaipurliteraturefestival.org. Retrieved 26 January 2012. 
  10. ^ About the Festival ’10
  11. ^ "2010 Attending Authors". Jaipurliteraturefestival.org. Retrieved 26 January 2012. 
  12. ^ "2011 Festival: Attending Speakers". Jaipurliteraturefestival.org. Retrieved 26 January 2012. 
  13. ^ "2012 Speakers". Jaipurliteraturefestival.org. Retrieved 26 January 2012. 
  14. ^ Singh, Akhilesh Kumar (20 January 2012). "Salman Rushdie not to attend Jaipur Literature Festival". The Times of India. India. Retrieved 20 January 2012. 
  15. ^ "Salman Rushdie pulls out of Jaipur literature festival". BBC News. 20 January 2012. Retrieved 20 January 2012. 
  16. ^ a b Singh, Akhilesh Kumar (24 January 2012). "Jaipur Literature Festival: Even a virtual Rushdie is unwelcome for Rajasthan govt". The Times of India. India. Retrieved 24 January 2012. 
  17. ^ Singh, Akhilesh Kumar; Chowdhury, Shreya Roy (23 January 2012). "Salman Rushdie shadow on Jaipur Literature Festival: 4 authors who read from 'The Satanic Verses' sent packing". The Times of India. India. Retrieved 23 January 2012. 
  18. ^ Kunzru, Hari (22 January 2012). "Why I quoted from The Satanic Verses". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 January 2012. 
  19. ^ "Politicians in bed with extremists for electoral gains". The Times of India. India. 25 January 2012. Retrieved 25 January 2012. 
  20. ^ Burke, Jason (24 January 2012). "Salman Rushdie goes on offensive after Indian festival appearance is cancelled". The Guardian. England. Retrieved 24 January 2012. 
  21. ^ "Salman Rushdie is poor, substandard writer: Justice Katju". The Times of India. India. 25 January 2012. Retrieved 25 January 2012. 
  22. ^ Massie, Allan (25 January 2012). "Salman Rushdie and the Jaipur Literary Festival: the zealots have triumphed again". The Telegraph. England. Retrieved 25 January 2012. 
  23. ^ Joshi, Manoj (26 January 2012). "Not letting him speak is a travesty: But the Rushdie affair should not be allowed to damage what is a great literary festival". Daily Mail. England. Retrieved 26 January 2012. 
  24. ^ Florence, Peter (26 January 2012). "Salman Rushdie case shows importance of book festivals". The Telegraph. England. Retrieved 26 January 2012. 
  25. ^ "Rushdie, Chetan in tweet war". The Times of India. India. 29 January 2012. Retrieved 29 January 2012. 
  26. ^ http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/HC-admits-PIL-on-shifting-Jaipur-Literature-Festival-venue-verdict-tomorrow/articleshow/50635055.cms
  27. ^ http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/5-reasons-to-not-miss-jaipur-literature-festival-2016/1/575642.html
  28. ^ http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/magazines/panache/jaipur-literature-festival-kicks-off-margaret-atwood-wows-audience/articleshow/50667636.cms


External links[edit]

  1. ^ Statesman, The (19 November 2015). [Every winter brings with it this extraordinary promise of an almost spectral annual phenomenon that witnesses the descent of some of the world's best-known literatis and heavyweight writers for five days of discussions and debates at the beautiful Diggi Palace during the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF). Read more at http://www.thestatesman.com/news/features/the-promise-that-winter-brings/104862.html#voXouxrbwRUwQLbV.99 "The Promise that winter brings"] Check |url= value (help) (New Delhi). Retrieved 24 November 2015.