Jaipur Literature Competition pronounces programme for 2021 digital version


New Delhi, January 21

American linguist Noam Chomsky, 2020 Booker Prize winner Douglas Stuart, doctors Randeep Guleria, Chandrakant Lahariya and Gagandeep Kang and Carnatic music exponent TM Krishna will be among the over 200 speakers at the Jaipur Literature Festival’s upcoming virtual edition next month, organisers said on Thursday.

Set to take place between February 19-28, the 10-day literary event will feature a line-up of speakers from across the world, consisting of writers, poets, playwrights, thinkers, politicians, journalists, cultural icons and recipients of major literary awards.

The programme, according to the organisers, promises to be “vast and kaleidoscopic” with themes ranging from ‘Technology and AI’, ‘Politics and History’, and ‘Environment and Climate Change’, to ‘Poetry and Music’, ‘Food and Literature’, and ‘Democracy and Constitutions’. 

A special session on the COVID-19 pandemic will be one of the major highlights of the edition.

Doctors and co-authors Randeep Guleria, Chandrakant Lahariya and Gagandeep Kang will participate in a discussion revolving around India’s fight against the virus.

“It’s been a joyous challenge to work on the programming for Jaipur Literature Festival 2021. We look at our transformative times and try to understand the future through the lens of the present and the past. Our hybrid digital outreach has opened up a new universe of possibilities,” said festival director Namita Gokhale. 

Chomsky’s session will evaluate the ten principles that have fuelled the idea behind his latest book, “Requiem for the American Dream: The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth and Power”, as he unravels its roots and its troubling impact on American society, culture and politics. 

While the talk with Glasgow-born author Douglas Stuart will dissect the thought process behind his Booker Prize-winning debut novel “Shuggie Bain” that follows the bond between a son and his mother, fractured by alcoholism, poverty, aspiration and human misery, Marina Wheeler, a Queen’s Counsel in England, will open the portals of memory as the daughter of a woman traumatised by the Partition of 1947 that divided British India into Pakistan and India. 

The festival will also shed light on the Aztec empire, their history and their conquest, through author and historian Camilla Townsend’s Cundill History Prize-winning “Fifth Sun: A New History of the Aztecs” that talks about complex and riveting history of the Aztecs based entirely on direct translations of the annals written in the neglected Nahuatl language.

Other themes that will be explored through the course of the festival will include, ‘Mental Health’, ‘Economics’, ‘Translations’, ‘Geopolitics’, ‘Historical Fiction’, and ‘Travel’.

“There is so much more to experience and reflect upon — from Gulabo Sapera and the dance of the serpents to the science, art and philosophy of Indian food — from the tragic life of the great Bangla writer, poet, and playwright Michael Madhusudan Dutt to the one and only M S Subbulakshmi.

Shekhar Pathak and Ramachandra Guha tell us of the people’s history of the Chipko Movement.

“We present S Hareesh’s award-winning novel ‘Moustache’, translated from Malayalam. In ‘Brown Baby’, British writer Nikesh Shukla explores shifting ideas of home. We pay tribute to the genius of S R Faruqi as we present his posthumously published novel, ‘Kabze Zaman’. These are some glimpses of the treats in store – a few surprises still await!” Gokhale added.  

At a special session, a distinguished panel consisting of author and the 16th Chief Election Commissioner of India Navin B Chawla, former Chief Election Commissioner of Nepal Neil Kantha Uprety, and the Chief Election Commissioner of Bhutan Dasho Kunzang Wangdi will decipher and evaluate the electoral process. 

In another session, director and writer Devashish Makhija’s latest book, “Oonga” will be launched, followed by a conversation exploring the book that captures the inherent paradox between dystopian ‘development’ and utopian ideologies, through the journey of a little boy in the midst of a clash between Adivasis, Naxalites, the CRPF and a mining company.

The speakers line-up also includes names like author and historian Vincent Brown, writer George Packer, Meenakshi Ahamed, philosopher Michael Sandel, scholar and academic Rupert Snell, and academic and columnist Gautam Choubey.

“A year after the world was felled by the pandemic, we have persevered and shown that human endurance can and will prevail, fuelled by knowledge and information, empathy and the right to justice.

“The Jaipur Literature Festival is representative of these ideals and will continue to be a platform to celebrate the joy of knowledge,” said festival producer Sanjoy K Roy.  — PTI



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