Jaipur is set to welcome the world’s largest free literary festival, the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival, this weekend, with 200,000 literature lovers expected to arrive at the Diggi Palace to witness some of the greatest writers discuss topics ranging from economics to food, politics to fiction and everything else in between.
This entirely free and open to all Festival, is scheduled to take place from 17 – 21January. Besides an increased capacity this year, the Festival site will also include a new venue dedicated to children and young people, called the Ford Samvaad.
The seventh edition of the Festival will see over 240 speakers attend the annual event, including the two Nobel laureates, Amartya Sen and Harold Varmus, and will represent 14 Indian languages, making it unique amongst literary festivals throughout the world. The line-up includes Jonathan Franzen, Javed Akhtar, Jhumpa Lahiri, Gloria Steinem, Shashi Tharoor, Ashok Vajpeyi, SR Faruqi, Ved Mehta, Reza Aslan, Samantha Shannon, Ganesh Devy, MT Vasudevan Nair Mahesh Dattani and Narendra Kohli.
The JLF Music Stage, running nightly from 17-20 January will also welcome a brilliant line-up of musical talent from Sufi to Soul, including Karsh Kale, Kiran Ahluwalia, Midival Punditz and the cream of Rajasthani musicians and dancers, who will share the stage with Grammy Award-winning band Tinariwen.
The Jaipur BookMark, a new platform for the publishing industry will also run in parallel to the 2014 Festival. Taking place at Narain Niwas from 18-20 Jan, BookMark will be an event for the Indian publishing industry to gather together and discuss challenges and opportunities in the rapidly changing sector. Sessions include the challenges of translation, content and format in a digital age and intellectual property, as well as one with the Chairman of the newly formed Penguin Random House, John Makinson.
For 2014, the Festival welcomes a range of new and returning sponsors, including ZEE Entertainment as title sponsor. New partnerships have been formed with Harvard University’s celebrated Mahindra Humanities Center, leading global airline British Airways and motor company Ford. On board as venue sponsors, these partnerships provide the critical support required to maintain the Festival as free and open to all. Ford is supporting the Ford Samvaad, a new venue for children hosting interactive sessions and workshops for toddlers to teenagers..
Further establishing the Festival’s commitment to promoting the joy of books, ZEE JLF is once again proud to partner with Pratham Books for the ZEE JLF-Pratham Books Outreach Programme, which has seen 25 sessions with Festival authors at schools across Jaipur, over the past few days. The outreach programme is another way the Festival promotes the habit of reading amongst young people within the region, offering free access to the acclaimed visiting authors.
The 2014 Festival will also be more paperless than ever with the launch of a new, free Festival app available on Android and iOS. This app allows Festival goers to download the programme straight to their smartphone, thus reducing the use of paper on site. One can search ‘JLF’ on the App Store or on Google Play to download the free app.
Namita Gokhale, author and Festival Co-Director said, “Every year, come January, the lawns of the Diggi Palace overflow with readers and writers and book lovers, as the world visits Jaipur and Jaipur visits the world. In this, our seventh year, we return with a new season of upcoming and established writers. 2014 pays tribute to several themes. These include a special focus on ‘Endangered Languages’, and the challenges of linguistic diversity. A series of sessions on ‘Crime and Punishment’ will look at issues of accountability, responsibility and culpability through the prism of detective fiction. ‘Democracy Dialogues’ searches the larger issues of political and social evolution, and are of special interest in an electoral year when India is at the crossroads of change.”
William Dalrymple, author and Festival Co-Director said, “The Jaipur Literature Festival is a unique celebration of writing that has grown into something bigger and more wonderful than anything we could ever have hoped when we first conceived it nearly a decade ago. From only 14 guests turning up in 2005, most of whom were tourists who took the wrong turn, in 2006 we had a crowd big enough to fill up the Diggi Durbar Hall. Last year, we had nearly a quarter of a million footfalls, and the success of Jaipur Literature Festival has inspired a whole galaxy of nearly sixty other literary festivals not only in India but in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal and most recently Burma. We are as surprised as we are proud of this. This year we present what is certainly our best ever music programme and arguably our best literary line-up too. Come and help us celebrate!”
Sanjoy K. Roy, Producer of the Festival, added, “Once again, the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival has brought a wealth of literary talent to the city. With increased capacity and space both at Diggi Palace and at Clarks Amer, we are thrilled to be able to make the Festival free and open to all. As in previous years, we are expecting a footfall of 200,000 and are thankful to all our sponsors and partners who help to maintain ZEE JLF as the world’s largest free literary festival.”