With the Coronavirus pandemic raging throughout the world, most events and exhibitions are either canceled or postponed or going the virtual route. The Jaipur Literature Festival is no exception. The 14th edition of the literary event will take place in a digital format in two sub-events – the first from 19-21 February and the second from 26-28 February. Both are Friday to Sunday weekend events.
The first list of speakers for the JLF digital editions have also been announced and includes several renowned authors, including Ramachandra Guha, Daniel Simpson, Prasoon Joshi, Bibek Debroy, Carlo Rovelli, Shashi Tharoor, Marina Wheeler, Simon Winchester, Stephen Brusatte, Sarbpreet Singh, Albie Sachs, Moin Mir, Ranjit Hoskote, Michael Sandel, Navtej Sarna, Oliver Craske among others.
The virtual format of JLF 2021 aims to provide an immersive experience and global access to the attendees in what one hopes are the last acts of the pandemic. The popular literature event will continue its quest for literary excellence, author and co-director William Dalrymple said in an official statement.
Mental health, translations, science and medicine, technology and artificial intelligence, environment and climate change, history and translations are some of the themes that will be explored in the virtual literary extravaganza.
According to knocksense.com, Jaipur BookMark (JBM) – the B2B arm of the litfest will be organizing a digital program in weekdays between the two weekends that is from 22-25 February 2021. The 8th edition of the JBM will bring together publishers, literary agents, writers, booksellers and translation agencies from across the world and will have two sessions per day.
The JLF 2021 merchandise and books by participating authors will be available online at www.jaipurliteraryfestival.org
Elsewhere, organizer Sanjoy Roy has spoken about the digital events held by JLF throughout 2020, although the live JLF 2020 event did take place in January-end, just before the pandemic took hold. Roy said audiences who had never been able to take part at Jaipur could get some of the flavor of the event in its virtual caravan.
However, in our view, the JLF is the single most important cultural event in India and a considerable achievement in terms of vision, practical organization, and logistics. Although one should not close one’s mind to the JLF’s organizers’ creativity, it will be sorely missed by a broad and inclusive audience. It deserves support to eventually leapfrog the Covid-19 pandemic in 2022 to continue on its evolutionary path.