Jaipur Literature Festival
|Jaipur Literature Festival|
|Location(s)||Diggi Palace, Jaipur, India|
|Years active||2006 – present|
The Jaipur Literature Festival is an annual literary festival 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.  The world's largest free literary festival, 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.
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, 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. JVF's Community Director Vinod Joshi is its regional advisor. All events at the festival are free and not ticketed.
The 2006 inaugural Jaipur Literature Festival featured 18 writers, including Hari Kunzru, William Dalrymple, Shobhaa De and Namita Gokhale and 14 others. It drew a crowd of about 100 attendees, some of whom "appeared to be tourists who had simply got lost", according to the event's co-director William Dalrymple.
In 2008 the festival continued to expand with about 2,500 attendees 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 and over 140 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, Wendy Doniger, Sunil Gangopadhyay, Tarun Tejpal, Sashi Tharoor, U R Ananthmurthy, Alka Saraogi, Anuragh Mathur, Ashok Vajpeyi, Ashis Nandy, Basharat Peer, Charles Nicoll, Christophe Jaffrelot, Colin Thubron, Daniyal Mueenuddin, Geetanjali Shree, Mukul Kesavan, Musharraf Ali Farooqui, G. T. Narayana Rao, Nikita Lalwani, Paul Zacharia, Pavan K Varma, Rana Dasgupta, S R Faruqui, Tash Aw, Udayan Vajpeyi, Farah Khan and Sonia Faleiro, with music provided by DJ Cheb i Sabbah, Nitin Sawney, Salman Ahmad (Junoon Unplugged), Shye Ben Tzur, Rajasthan Roots, Paban Das Baul and others in evening concerts over the five days. The special theme was the oral tradition, in India and elsewhere.
The 2012 festival was held from 20 January to 24 January, with the talk-show host Oprah Winfrey and author Salman Rushdie among the names announced in advance. Rushdie later cancelled, and indeed cancelled his complete tour of India citing possible threats to his life as the primary reason. Rushdie investigated police reports that hitmen had been hired to assassinate him and implied that the police might have exaggerated the potential danger.
Police said that Ruchir Joshi, Jeet Thayil, Hari Kunzru and Amitava Kumar fled Jaipur on the advice of officials at the Jaipur Literature Festival after reading excerpts from The Satanic Verses, which is banned in India. 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".
A proposed video link session between Rushdie and the Jaipur Literature Festival ran into difficulty after the government pressured the festival to stop it.
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".
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. Scottish novelist Allan Massie wrote, "The response to words should be words and words in the form of argument, not abuse". 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". Peter Florence, Director, Hay Festivals, said the whole affair showed the importance of book festivals.
The 2015 festival was scheduled from 21 to 25 January. Earlier that year it had been reported that the tentative list of speakers this season would number 181, including V. S. Naipaul, Chetan Bhagat and Amish Tripathi. The festival also expanded beyond the four walls of Diggi Palace, holding more than 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 5,000-strong crowd to the Front Lawns of Diggi Palace.
The Jaipur Lit Fest 2016 began at the Diggi Palace as scheduled, with Gair dance from Barmer, Rajasthan accompanied by a crowd that had been waiting since early morning. The Chief Minister, Vasundhara Raje, inaugurated the festival by lighting the ceremonial lamp, and reminisced about her childhood memories of reading books. In this year, the Jaipur Literature Festival entered into the Limca Book of Records.
The 2018 edition of the Jaipur Literature Festival was organised from 25 January to 29 January at the Diggi Palace in Jaipur. The biggest yet, the event saw participation from more than 380 people from across the world, who represented over 20 international and 15 Indian languages. The participants included authors, novelists, essayists, actors, politicians, musicians, lyricists, film directors, historians, scientists, broadcasters, businesspersons, poets, translators, marketers, journalists, publishers, playwrights, critics, academics, civil servants, dancers, therapists and activists. Among the prominent speakers at the 2018 edition were Helen Fielding, Hamid Karzai, Shashi Tharoor, Anurag Kashyap, Chetan Bhagat, Chitra Mudgal, Kota Neelima, Nayantara Sahgal, Prasoon Joshi, Rajdeep Sardesai, Roly Keating, Tom Stoppard, Sagarika Ghose, Sharmila Tagore, Sheila Dikshit, Shobha De, Soha Ali Khan, Vinod Dua, Vir Sanghvi and Vishal Bhardwaj. Apart from lectures, book discussions, debates, book readings and book launches, the 2018 Jaipur Literature Festival also featured a music stage, headlined by Kailash Kher, and a theatrical dance performance at Hawa Mahal.
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