The Jaipur Literature Festival 2022 is off to an electrifying start, with the online leg of the event kicking off today.
Highlights of the day included a compelling conversation between Nobel Literature Laureate Abdulrazak Gurnah and British publisher Alexandra Pringle about people, communities and their lives; a joyful interaction between OG YouTube star, best-selling author, actress and designer Lilly SIngh and Supriya Dravid and a deep dive of American “cli-fi” author Kim Stanley Robinson and Raghu Karnad in his latest book, “Ministry of the Future”.
A dazzling musical performance by highly acclaimed artists BC Manjunath, Darshan Doshi, Nathulal Solanki, Pramath Kiran and Praveen D Rao kicked off the 2022 edition of the iconic Festival with co-directors Namita Gokhale and William Dalrymple and producer Sanjoy K Roy speaking the inaugural speech.
William Dalrymple said he hoped the JLF would bring comfort to book lovers who have missed the joy of live events with their favorite authors.
“It’s a unique range; no other literary festival in the world has writers like these year after year and we are incredibly proud to bring them to you over the next few days.”
Introducing Nobel laureate Abdulrazak Gurnah in the first panel of JLF 2022, Pringle quoted the Nobel Academy, saying Gurnah’s work examines the “uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the plight of refugees into the abyss.” between cultures and continents”.
Gurnah, who fled Zanzibar as a teenager after the 1964 Revolution, faced prolonged poverty and alienation in England. Her life experiences, driven by “the idea of losing her place in the world” and understanding her own displacement, resulted in her first three novels – Memory of Departure, Pilgrims Way and Dottie. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2021.
During his session on a written life, Gurnah described his relationship with language and how he grew up hearing different languages.
“English was a learned language and not a spoken and learned language, but a kind of studied language, so people learn French in a particular way. I think from the age of 8 or 9 years old, I felt so comfortable in English and it didn’t seem strange or any special talent,” Gurnah said.
Her most recent novel, “Afterlives,” examines German colonial strength in East Africa and the lives of Tanganyikans in the shadow of war.
Best-selling author, actress and creator Lilly Singh has explained how the pandemic lockdown has caused her to reassess her life and values and reflect on her sense of self-esteem and self-identity, which led her to write her second book, ‘Be a Triangle: How I Went From Losing to Shaping My Life’. It’s a confession of your own struggles and a guide to finding your true self.
During her conversation with Supriya Dravid, she also talked about Lilly’s Library, her new virtual book club dedicated to celebrating South Asian imagination, writing and writers.
“We only have a handful of shows and movies that show South Asians on screen. I learned once I started diving into South Asian stories that the books are actually a lot more progressive than where Hollywood is. There are so many great South Asian authors, and there is such an abundance of great culture and stories,” Lilly said. She added that she wanted Lilly’s library to be a book club showcasing South Asian stories that the world could enjoy.
In another exciting session, American writer and journalist Patrick Radeen Keefe discussed his book on the murky world of big pharma; “Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty,” with Teamwork Arts Managing Director and Festival Producer Sanjoy K Roy.
“Part of what I was trying to do in the book was to tell a story not only about the opioid crisis or the last few decades, but also to dig deeper into the history of big pharma in the United States and the ways that this industry, I think, has compromised many public institutions,” he said.
Kim Stanley Robinson’s recent cli-fi novel “The Ministry of the Future” begins with a deadly human-induced heat wave in India. In a conversation with “Farthest Field” journalist and author Raghu Karnad, Robinson shared his vision for the not-too-distant future.
Award-winning British-Turkish novelist and activist Elif Shafak discussed her latest novel, ‘The Island of Lost Trees’ – a tribute to the agony of war, displacement and eternal hope, with Nandini Nair.
Irish novelist Colm Tóibín, in conversation with novelist and journalist Sandip Roy, spoke about his book “The Magician”, a tribute to Thomas Mann.
The first day ended with renowned writer Nayantara Sahgal talking with her daughter, writer and journalist Gita Sahgal, about her recent non-fiction book “Encounter with Kiran: Fragments from a Relationship”; a chronicle of his long correspondence with the writer Kiran Nagarkar.
JLF has hosted over 2,000 speakers over the past 15 years and has grown from a one-day event to a global literary phenomenon hosting over a million book lovers from across India and the world.
It brings together a diverse mix of the world’s greatest writers, thinkers, humanitarians, politicians, business leaders and artists to speak out and engage in thoughtful debate and dialogue.
Past speakers have ranged from Nobel laureates JM Coetzee, Orhan Pamuk, Malala Yousafzai, Muhammad Yunus and Joseph Stiglitz; Man Booker Prize winners Ben Okri, Douglas Stuart, Margaret Atwood and Paul Beatty; the winners of Sahitya Akademi Gulzar, Javed Akhtar, MT Vasudevan Nair, as well as the late Girish Karnad, Mahasweta Devi and UR Ananthamurthy; as well as literary superstars such as Amish Tripathi, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Vikram Seth.
The festival also hosted Noble Laureate Amartya Sen, Bollywood Superstar Amitabh Bachchan, Former President of India APJ Abdul Kalam, Bill Gates, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Oprah Winfrey, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Stephen Fry, Thomas Piketty and the former president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai.
There’s a lot more to watch over the next nine days. Day 2 will feature South African novelist and playwright Damon Galgut, author of the Booker Prize-winning book ‘The Promise’. He’ll have a conversation with Maya Jasanoff about her writing style, process, inspirations, and latest work.
English actor Rupert Everett will talk with Siddharth Dhanavant Shanghvi about the nature of fame, friendship, drama, gossip and love.
Dutch investigative journalist Bette Dam will have a conversation with historian, author and festival co-director William Dalrymple about pioneering journalists and voices in the discourse surrounding Afghanistan.
Winner of the 2021 Nobel Prize in Physics, Italian physicist Giorgio Parisi will discuss his outstanding research and book with Priyamvada Natarajan.
Indian actress, writer and public figure Sonali Bendre Behl will participate in a discussion with Meghna Pant on the power of books. The successful actress and cancer survivor turned to writing and self-expression with “The Modern Gurukul: My Experiments.”