Set to take place between 28 January – 1 February 2022 on-ground in Jaipur and until February 6 online, the 10-day-long annual literature extravaganza, the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF), will return within a hybrid avatar. This year’s power-house roster of speakers, like every edition, reflects the diversity of the Festival’s programming in books, themes, subjects, and ideas representing literature and thoughts intrinsic to both India and the world.
The Festival has hosted over 5000 speakers and artists and welcomed over a million book-lovers over the past editions, evolving into the ‘greatest literary show on Earth’. This year, the Festival will host over 250 speakers, writers, thinkers, politicians, journalists, and popular cultural icons from across a vast array of nationalities, representing 21 Indian and international languages as well as major awards such as the Nobel, the Booker Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, the Sahitya Akademi, the Padma Bhushan, the Padma Shri, the DSC Prize for Literature, the JCB Prize for Literature and many more.
The Jaipur Literature Festival 2022 program has been revealed recently at the Delhi Curtain Raiser hosted by the producer Teamwork Arts. The program is said to be vast and kaleidoscopic, with themes ranging from the arts, biographies, business, and economics, climate change, current affairs, food, poetry, science and technology, Artificial Intelligence, and the writing process, among others.
Some highlights from the program include Nobel Laureate Abdulrazak Gurnah’s session. Gurnah won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2021 and is celebrated as one of Africa’s greatest living writers. His novel Afterlives examines the brutality of German colonial forces in East Africa and the lives of Tanganyikans impacted by the devastating war.
Featuring another Nobel Laureate, Daniel Kahneman joins professor Olivier Sibony and legal scholar Cass R Sunstein in explaining how and why humans are so susceptible to noise in judgment and what we can do about it. They will be in conversation at the session titled ‘Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment’. At another session, yet another Nobel Laureate Abhijit V Banerjee will be in conversation with artist and illustrator Cheyenne Olivier. This session will explore a totally different dimension of the economist donning the cap of a gourmet chef. Discussing his delicious cookbook Cooking To Save Your Life, Banerjee will take the audience through the recipes he has delighted his friends, colleagues, and students with. He will speak movingly of the bonds of food and memory, friendship and community, across cultures and continents.
The 2021 Booker Prize-winning author Damon Galgut will discuss his writing style, process, inspirations, and the essence of his latest work The Promise. Galgut is a master of the knot, the stubborn rope which chafes and binds people to places, politics, prophets, and the past. His latest book, sharp, meditative, and winner of the Booker Prize, conveys the play of power in relationships with self, society, and the state against the backdrop of post-Apartheid South Africa.
Booker Prize-winning author DBC Pierre’s recent and riotous novel, Meanwhile in Dopamine City, defies form and the limits of literary possibility. In Dopamine City, a father grapples with a world changing every day, his daughter’s request for her first smartphone, and the choice between joining this new world, wither, or escape altogether? Pierre will discuss experimental fiction and the plea for heart and soul in robotic times at the session.
British writer and translator Deborah Smith, in conversation with translator Arunava Sinha, will discuss the many, often intangible, tasks of the translator comprising integrity, interpretation, expression, and the singular objective of storytelling. Her translation of Korean author Han Kang’s The Vegetarian won the Man Booker International Prize in 2016 and is widely celebrated for its feminist treatment of Kang’s vivid and radical novel.
Indian-American businesswoman and former chief executive officer of PepsiCo Indra Nooyi’s memoir, My Life in Full: Work, Family, and Our Future, follows her journey of grit and determination as she broke through several glass ceilings and the barriers of gender and race to become a global business leader. In conversation with author Aparna Piramal Raje, Nooyi will discuss her life, her trailblazing philosophy of ‘Performance with Purpose’, and the importance of a care infrastructure that benefits both women and men.
In conversation with Seema Goswami, Indian actress Neena Gupta will discuss the backstories behind the glamorous facade, the ups and downs, the triumphs and heartbreaks that she has maneuvered in her extraordinary life. In Gupta’s candid autobiography, Sach Kahun Toh, she chronicles her extraordinary journey, both personal and professional, deconstructing Bollywood to tell her version of the realities behind the star-studded screen. At another session considered as one of the greatest science-fiction authors, Kim Stanley Robinson will be in conversation with journalist and author Raghu Karnad. Robinson will share his vision of the not-too-distant future. Beginning with a deadly human-induced heatwave in India, his recent cli-fi novel, The Ministry for the Future, is a roadmap on which life on Earth can survive.
The Dawn of Everything provides an extraordinary perspective of human history and social evolution, challenging our most fundamental assumptions to reveal a broader scope for human emancipation. Author David Wengrow studies the origins of predominant theories of our primitive ancestors, barbarianism, human instinct, the origin of states and civilizations, and their ties to the conflict between European society and indigenous discourse. In conversation with Rebecca Wragg Sykes, Wengrow will discuss the conceptual shackles and the possibilities that emerge from their removal.
Bringing a historical flavor to the program, acclaimed writer and historian Manu S Pillai and writer and politician Dr Shashi Tharoor will get into a conversation with author Ira Mukhoty. The idea of India’s maharajahs as trifling, decadent despots who chased opulence over the public good, or as incompetent leaders who submitted to British design and dominance, has long been circulated, past verifiability. Pillai disputes this view in his seamless new book, False Allies: India’s Maharajahs in the Age of Ravi Varma. Tharoor is also no stranger to upending misinformed notions, and has chronicled disruptive histories in works such as An Era of Darkness: The British Empire in India and Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India and his most recent book, The Struggle for India’s Soul: Nationalism and the Fate of Democracy. It will be a conversation that is sure to galvanize historical perspectives. Pillai will also be in conversation with researcher and writer, Anirudh Kanisetti at another session where both writers come together for an invigorating conversation on the lords and legacies of the Deccan. Kanisetti’s upcoming book Lords of the Deccan: Southern India from the Chalukyas to the Cholas is a testament to his thoughtful and immense study of medieval South India and its influence on contemporary politics and culture.
The Festival will feature another conversation between Indian art historian and recipient of the Padma Shri and the Padma Bhushan, BN Goswamy and historian, author and with Festival co-director William Dalrymple. This session will be an accessible and authoritative primer to art in India and South Asia. In his latest book Conversations, Goswamy opens a window to the artworks that define our sensibilities.
British biographer and literary agent Andrew Lownie’s The Mountbattens: The Lives and Loves of Dickie and Edwina Mountbatten is an intimate story of an unusual marriage in a family of great intrigue. Lownie illustrates the powerful partnership between the last Viceroy of India, Dickie, and the magnetic, wealthy, and universally-loved Edwina. Lownie has most recently petitioned the British government to release the ‘Mountbatten documents’, and explores in his book, the questions they might definitively answer revealing the truth behind Dieppe Raid, the Partition of India, the alleged affair between Edwina and Nehru, and the assassination of Mountbatten in 1979. In conversation with historian and author Narayani Basu, Lownie will reveal the veracity behind the legends of the Mountbattens.
Writer, columnist, and curator Sujata Prasad’s co-authored biography, The Dream of Revolution: A Biography of Jayaprakash Narayan, is a riveting account of a man whose ideas and beliefs epitomized Marxian and Gandhian styles of political engagement. Along with historian and author Narayani Basu and Indian sociologist and public intellectual Dipankar Gupta, Prasad will discuss the crucial role played by one man in shaping India’s history.
Viruses exist in the marginal space between the realm of the living and non-living. Acclaimed writer and biochemist Pranay Lal brings this marginal life form to the forefront and gives us fascinating insights into the world of viruses in his book Invisible Empire. In conversation with the academic, surgeon, and author Ambarish Satwik, Lal will explore the history of viruses that have turned from simple life forms to catastrophic illness-causing agents and discuss the vast ramifications that one tiny life form can have on humanity.
Two recent biographies evaluate the life and legacy of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar. Author and historian Vikram Sampath’s two-volume biography, Savarkar: Echoes from a Forgotten Past and Savarkar: A Contested Legacy, maps Savarkar’s journey from a fiery revolutionary to social worker against the world-shaping events culminating in the independence and partition of India. Journalist, political analyst and writer Uday Mahurkar’s co-authored book, Veer Savarkar: The Man Who Could Have Prevented Partition, examines Savarkar’s role as a pioneer of India’s national security system and the evolving nature of his ideology. Both authors will be in conversation with journalist Mandira Nayar, and will discuss the life and legacy of a man whose presence looms large over India’s current political narrative.
Continuing the conversations on Indian political history, academic and author Tripurdaman Singh will be in conversation with writer and journalist Pragya Tiwari, discussing the conflicting ideologies of the iconic figures in the context of the long shadow of the past, at a session discussing the legacy of India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. Singh’s new book, Nehru: The Debates that Defined India, deftly outlines his overarching influence in crafting modern India. Illuminating the forgotten ideas of four of Nehru’s contemporaries and opposition, Muhammad Iqbal, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Sardar Patel, and Syama Prasad Mookerji, Singh will share his astute insights on the Indian socio-political milieu.
The audience will also witness a session that looks at the relations between India and Bangladesh and examines the socio-political, cultural, and economic way forward to fuel and support the rich diversity of the two neighboring countries and commemorate 50 years of Bangladesh’s Liberation War. Eminent Bangladeshi journalist Mahfuz Anam is the editor of The Daily Star, Bangladesh’s foremost English language daily newspaper. He will be in conversation with the author of The Bengalis: A Portrait of a Community and The Eastern Gate, Sudeep Chakravarti. They will discuss the shifting axis of Bangladesh’s socio-economic, political and religious ethos and the emerging roadblocks around migration, refugees, water-sharing, and development that await the road ahead. Former diplomat and columnist Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty will also be a part of the session.
Writer, screenwriter, and activist Farrukh Dhondy boasts as many scintillating life experiences as he does professional accolades. From bearing witness to pre-independent India, the Partition and a great many social movements to meeting a roster of eclectic and even murderous celebrities, Dhondy’s life is a cinematic rollercoaster that reignites excitement in memoir-writing. In conversation with film and theatre director Arghya Lahiri, co-author of Dolly Thakore’s unapologetic memoir, Dhondy will discuss life as a writer.
The Festival will also explore the artistic side of literature with some sessions concentrated on art, culture, music, and poetry at a dedicated venue for sessions on the arts. Arundhathi Subramaniam is an award-winning poet, author, and critic who has contributed greatly to contemporary spiritual writing and exploration. Subramaniam will discuss the confluence of literature, culture, and yoga, the ultimate practice and meeting-place for individual consciousness and the universe. Tishani Doshi’s exquisite collection of poetry, A God at the Door, is a voyage across time and space, drawing from nature and humanity to give power to the marginalized, heal trauma with beauty, and portray diverse voices, images, people, and places with piercing clarity. Doshi will discuss her extraordinary book of poems.
In the session title ‘The Great Mughals and the Moment of Portraiture’ independent art historian Ursula Weekes will be in conversation with author and historian Yashaswini Chandra, discussing her latest project on the images that not only reflected the environment of the Mughal court but also helped to shape it.
Remo Fernandes is an icon for a generation of music lovers. His personal and professional triumphs and tragedies come together in a kaleidoscopic memoir. In conversation with Festival producer and managing director at Teamwork Arts, Sanjoy K Roy, Remo will discuss his life in pursuit of his greatest loves: music, art, writing, and his homeland, Goa. Roy will be in another conversation with theatre personality Dolly Thakore, author and screenwriter Arghya Lahiri, and feminist, publisher and author, Ritu Menon, discussing the essence of theatre, its genius, its magic, and its pervading misogyny.
Tourism Minister of Rajasthan, Vishvendra Singh said, “I am delighted that the Jaipur Literature Festival is returning on-ground in the Pink City. I believe that the Festival truly provides an exceptional platform for both Indian and global authors and thought leaders to engage and strengthen our literary heritage and culture. I look forward to warmly welcoming all authors, speakers, artists, musicians, and visitors to Jaipur and the state of Rajasthan for the Festival in January 2022.”
Namita Gokhale, writer, publisher, and co-director of the Jaipur Literature Festival, said, “My co-director William Dalrymple, producer Sanjoy K Roy, and our committed colleagues at Teamwork, have crafted a program, both on-ground and virtual, that conjures the elusive spirit of our transforming times, and gives us healing and resilience.”
William Dalrymple, writer, historian, and co-director of the Jaipur Literature Festival, said, “Every year we bring to world’s greatest writers of fiction and non-fiction to Jaipur, but never have we had a line-up quite as extraordinary as this. This year’s Nobel Prize Winner, Abdurazak Gurnah, will join this year’s Booker Prize winner, Damon Galgut, and this year Baillie Gifford non-fiction awardee, Patrick Radden Keefe, along with Dolman winner, Taran Khan. Colm Toibin, Jonathan Franzen, Shehan Karunatilaka, Lisa Taddeo, Nadifa Mohammad, Tahmima Anam, Elif Shafak, DBC Pierre, and Monica Ali will complete our First XI of global greats of fiction.
“Harvard superstars, Steven Pinker and Maya Jasanoff will join Oxbridge geniuses Marina Warner and Robert Fox. Colin Thubron and Robert MacFarlane will speak on travel writing, Marc David Baer on the Ottomans, Tristram Hunt on Wedgewood, and Kei Miller on his Caribbean childhood. Our special subjects, The Dawn of History and the Ancient World, will bring together the talents of Vidya Dehejia, Upinder Singh, David Wengrow, Becky Wragg Sykes, Peter Stewart, Himanshu Prabha Ray, Cat Jarman, BN Goswamy, and Benjamin Brose. It’s going to be most extraordinary few days and a Jaipur Literature Festival vintage year that must on account be missed.”
Sanjoy K Roy, managing director of Teamwork Arts, which produces the Jaipur Literature Festival, said, “Jaipur Literature Festival has always been a unique platform, celebrating literature and knowledge from across India and the world in the most inclusive way. This year’s program reflects the turmoil, tragedy, and immense resilience that human beings have displayed in the face of great challenges. As we embark on a new year, we bring to you celebrated thought leaders of the world, who try and make sense of our complex times.”