Five-Day Jaipur Literary Fest Begins

Wasfia Jalali/Jaipur
Five-Day Jaipur Literary Fest Begins
Eminent authors and who's who of the literary world, including greats in Indian languages like K Satchidanandan and Gulzar, descended here for one of Asia's biggest literary event that began today.

Though foggy conditions in Delhi played havoc with schedules of several international luminaries as flights were cancelled and delayed, the five-day fest kicked off on a promising note in the presence of eminent authors like Roberto Colasso and Geoff Dyer.

An audience running in hundreds also listened with bated breath to the likes of Gulzar, Malayali poet Satchindanandan, and Rajasthani and Hindi poet Nand Kishore, who enchanted the gathering with their rustic compositions.

In 2006, when the festival made its modest beginning, 18 authors had turned up for the event, and this year the directors say the number is expected to cross the 200 mark.

Festival director and eminent author William Dalrymple said the event, which now draws eminent persons from the literary world, was originally intended to be a platform for writers of the Indian diaspora who were international stars.

"Wherever we went, be it the literature gatherings in New York or Sydney the likes of Salman Rushdie, and Hari Kunzru, the international stars of Indian diaspora were to be seen but in the absence of a literature festival in India they never came to an Indian city," Dalrymple said.

He said the organisers were glad the Indian writers in English now find a platform in India as well as those writing in other Indian languages, alongside their international counterparts.

"The festival has expanded at an extraordinary pace, like a monster swallowing up the literary scene in India," Dalrymple said.

Dalit literature in India and the issues raised by it will be a significant feature at this year's festival, which in its fifth edition will see the presence of a Nobel Prize winner and two Pulitzer awardees.

Providing a balance between the literary and the popular will be lyricists Prasoon Joshi, Gulzar, Javed Akhtar and Shabana Azmi.

Among other things discussed at the first day of the extravaganza was the importance and need of translations to ensure that readers have access to the literary talents in Indian languages.

"Those writing in Indian languages take a longer time to get recognition than those writing in English and translations are the only way to bridge that gap," said Satchidanandan.
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