Literary Yard

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“Literature was built by a world of misfits,” joked acclaimed American novelist Jonathan Franzen today at the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival. The author was speaking to a crowd of Festival-goers from all corners of the world as the second day of the world’s largest free literary festival kicked off.

The day continued with a packed session on ‘The Gobal Novel’ featuring Man Booker shortlisted authors Jhumpa Lahiri and Jim Crace, as well as Maaza Mengiste and Xiaolu Guo.

Later in the morning Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Mark Mazzeti discussed his new book, The Way of the Knife, which analyzes the evolution of the CIA from a spy agency to a precise, covert killing machine. He observed “the war in Iraq under the Bush administration was a hammer, while the Obama administration handles it more like a scalpel”.

Also present on the panel was Former US advisor to Afghanistan Barnett Rubin who explained that one adverse effect of trying to pursue peace dialogues whilst simultaneously proceeding with military strikes is that “you might end up killing someone with whom you want to talk to.”

In a session titled, ‘Chronicles of a Culture’ M.T. Vasudevan Nair, affectionately known as MT, was joined by his award-winning translator Gita Krishnankutty in a fascinating discussion about his novel Randamoozham, generally considered his masterpiece.

MT, who is one of the most prolific and versatile authors in Malayalam literature, talked about his motivation to write, observing that every writer has a wound that drives them, and his were loneliness and hunger.

Today also saw the start of the Jaipur BookMark the Festival’s new b2b platform for the publishing industry.  Produced by Teamwork Arts, Sanjoy K. Roy, Producer of the event welcomed 80 publishing professionals to the Narain Niwas, explaining that the BookMark is the product of an idea that Namita Gokhale and he had a year go. Sessions today included translation and digital publishing, as well as a session with Penguin Random House Chairman John Makinson who was in conversatin with Urvashi Butalia.

Just announced this evening was the winner of the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2014. From a shortlist of 6, the winner of the US$50,000 award was announced as Cyrus Mistry for her novel Chronicle of a Corpse Bearer.


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