Jaipur Literature Festival To Be Held In New York On September 20

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Sanjoy Roy, the founder and managing director of Teamwork Arts, which organizes the festival (right), in conversation with Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, at the Jaipur Literature Festival. (Courtesy: JLF)

NEW YORK – “The greatest literary show on Earth” – as it’s dubbed, for its huge audience turnout too annually – the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF), the premier literary festival in India, is coming to New York.

JLF at New York will be held on September 20 with a range of provocative panels and debates with some renowned writers and intellectuals, at the Asia Society.

This will be the first time that Asia Society will host the festival in New York. The event is in partnership with the South Asia Institute at Columbia University. The program is part of Asia Society’s Season of India, held in conjunction with the exhibition, ‘The Progressive Revolution: Modern Art for a New India’, on view at Asia Society Museum, from September 14, 2018 to January 20, 2019.

“This exciting and dynamic program will be a highlight of our Season of India, a special series of programs looking at India through the lens of arts, culture, business and policy. Having the JLF here will be a perfect fit,” Asia Society Executive Vice President Tom Nagorski, said in a statement.

JLF at New York is a part of the larger umbrella of JLF in the USA, which also includes JLF at Houston on September 14-15, and ZEE JLF at Boulder, Colorado, on September 21-23.

The New York event will present a rich showcase of South Asia’s literary and oral heritage, with internationally acclaimed authors and thinkers. The festival will be host to authors from around the world, as well as local literary figures.

Participating speakers include, Alia Malek, Gauri Viswanathan, James Shapiro, Kanishk Tharoor, Kayhan Irani, Martin Puchner, Molly Emma Aitken, Namita Gokhale, Navina Haidar, Navtej Sarna, Preti Taneja, Ross Perlin, Ruchira Gupta, Sandeep Jauhar, Sharad Paul, Shashi Tharoor, Tunku Varadarajan, William Dalrymple, and Zila Khan.

During the festival, the audience has the opportunity to listen in on conversations about relevant topics, genuine discussions, rather than a book reading or performance.

Crowd at one of the sessions of the 2018 Jaipur Literature Festival, held in Jaipur, Rajasthan. (Courtesy: JLF)

The program highlights include a reception, a musical performance by Indian Sufi singer Zila Khan; vigorous panel discussions centering around the history, culture, religion, foreign policy, and the great passion for cricket in India; the jewel of India, the Kohinoor and its history shrouded in mystery; a Harvard Literature professor taking audiences through the role that stories and literature have played in creating the world we have today; the intelligence of tradition with Molly Emma Aitken and Navina Najat Haidar, talks around the Bard of Avon, and Shakespeare’s greatest and most evocative work.

There will also be a session engaging with writers and journalists of bilinguality, mother languages, lost lullabies, and the joy of communicating the “Babylonian bedlam” of New York City.

There will be inaugural addresses by Namita Gokhale, William Dalrymple, Navtej Sarna and Sanjoy K. Roy.

Cardiologist and New York Times bestselling author Sandeep Jauhar and story-teller Sharad Paul will engage in ‘Medical Narratives: The Pulse of the Story’. A highlight will be ‘Indi Sutra’, where Shashi Tharoor will be in conversation with Tunku Varadarajan. Indian ambassador to the US Navtej Sarna and Willam Dalrymple will delve into the mystery of the Kohinoor diamond; and another session will see Molly Emma Aitken and Navina Haidar in conversation with William Dalrymple.

The organizers, Teamwork Arts, produces also other international festivals, including Shared History in South Africa, Eye on India in the United States of America, and India by the Bay in Hong Kong. Sanjoy Roy is the founder and managing director of Teamwork Arts. Namita Gokhale and William Dalrymple are the co-directors of the JLF.

JLF attracted over 400,000 footfalls in its 11th edition in January 2018, in Jaipur. Often called the Kumbaya of Literature and the Woodstock for the mind, the five-day festival in Rajasthan is a riot of color, energy, ideas, music, controversy, discussion and debate.

The festival has hosted J.M. Coetzee, Orhan Pamuk, Wole Soyinka, Ian McEwan, Margaret Atwood, Paul Beatty, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Vikram Seth, the Dalai Lama, Oprah Winfrey, among others. The 2019 edition will see the likes of Neil Gaiman, Zadie Smith, Ian McKellen, and Yuval Harari.

JLF has been present in the US for three years. Last year, it was held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

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