JLF 2023 to feature a treasure trove of Indian languages

Sessions on 21 Indian and 14 International languages

Namita Gokhale. Photo Teamwork Arts

The 16th Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF), slated for 19 to 23 January 2023, will focus on Indian languages. Showcasing the fascinating diversity of languages, the festival will feature sessions on 21 Indian and 14 International languages.

The literary extravaganza will host a session featuring author Alka Saraogi and novelist and recipient of the Sahitya Akademi Award for Tokri men Digant, Anamika. In conversation with journalist Nishtha Gautam, the two luminaries from Hindi literature will discuss the trajectory of their creative life and read from their recent works.

Another session will feature eminent Sanskrit scholar and director of the Instituto Cervantes in New Delhi, Oscar Pujol, in conversation with the Ambassador of Poland to India, Adam Burakowski, and author, Indian diplomat, Abhay K, for a session titled ‘Global Hindi’.

The festival will host a session featuring the International Booker Prize winner Geetanjali Shree, along with the translator of her novel Daisy Rockwell, in conversation with Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar recipient Tanuj Solanki. This session in Hindi focuses on the original novel — its experimental storytelling, its innovative digressions, and its viewpoint on the Partition through an octogenarian protagonist.

Hindi is the fourth most-spoken language in the world. Everywhere, the interplay with regional dialects and local sensibilities has yielded its variants. This range of voice and experience is evident in the works of writers who explore a variety of themes and language experiments. Novelist Anamika, International Booker Prize winner Geetanjali Shree, writer Nand Bhardwaj, and author Pushpesh Pant will come together in conversation with poet, music, and cinema scholar Yatindra Mishra for a session titled ‘Ek Hindi Anek Hindi’.

Under the book launch section, the festival will showcase writer, festival co-director, and co-founder of the ‘greatest literary show on Earth’, Namita Gokhale and translators Pushpesh Pant and Prabhat Ranjan in conversation with publisher Aditi Maheshwari-Goyal. This event will be attended by the managing director of Teamwork Arts and Festival Producer, Sanjoy K. Roy; author, historian, and festival co-director and co-founder William Dalrymple; and managing director of Vani Prakashan Group and Chairman of Vani Foundation, Arun Maheshwari.

Following the launch, a panel discussion titled ‘First Edition: Jaipurnama’ will focus on the vibrant Hindi translation of Gokhale’s evocative novel with an insider’s view on the Jaipur Literature Festival – Jaipur Journals.

Delving into little-known details of the late Lata Mangeshkar’s long journey as a vocal artiste, poet, music, and cinema scholar Yatindra Mishra has created a fascinating portrait of a legend with a singular passion for excellence in music, in his book originally published in Hindi as Lata: Sur Gatha, and translated into English by Ira Pande. During the festival, a panel discussion will have Mishra in conversation with translator and writer Anu Singh Choudhary.

The festival will also explore some of the intrinsic sessions showcasing various dialects of Hindi language namely Rajasthani and Bhojpuri. Rajasthan’s rich oral and minstrel traditions are today bolstered by a vast range of writing in various dialects of the region, and also in Hindi. Touching this vast repertoire of literature and culture in Rajasthan, a session will feature eminent Rajasthani writer Chandra Prakash Deval in conversation with author Malchand Tiwari.

Poet-diplomat Abhay K will present the range and sophistication of Bihari literature in this first comprehensive anthology of writing from eleven languages of the region. During a session, poet, academic and novelist Anamika, who has contributed to the anthology, will join Abhay K in conversation with award-winning writer Akshaya Mukul as they pay a warm tribute to Bihar, its cultural and literary legacy.

Celebrating the power of literature at the festival, an array of Indian languages will be showcased through some of the sessions covering languages such as Urdu, Bhojpuri, and Rajasthani among others.

A session will feature iconic poet, lyricist and screenwriter Javed Akhtar and acclaimed actor and social activist Shabana Azmi in conversation with the translator, writer, and literary historian Rakhshanda Jalil

Dhanak, a collection of poems by poet and lyricist Jan Nisar Akhtar (Javed Akhtar’s father), selected by Azmi and translated from Urdu by Sumantra Ghoshal and Daaera, a collection of poems by Kaifi Azmi (Shabana Azmi’s father), selected by Javed Akhtar and translated from Urdu by Mir Ali Hussain, are multilingual anthologies that showcase 25 nazms of each of the iconic poets.

Javed Akhtar. Photo Teamwork Arts

Written in Nastaliq and Devanagari scripts, the books are a tribute by Javed Akhtar, and Azmi to the poetic genius of their parents. During a session, Akhtar will discuss the two-book set of Dhanak, meaning ‘rainbow’, and Daeera, meaning ‘circle’, with poetry that is evocative, colorful, and captivating.

The festival will also feature a session that will concentrate on Khalid Jawed’s landmark Urdu classic translated by Baran Farooqi in English as The Paradise of Food, winner of the 2022 JCB Prize for Literature. Celebrated for its experimental form and dark honesty, the narrative follows the journey of a middle-class Muslim family over a span of fifty years with the kitchen at the core of the text.

Following the conversation, a panel discussion will showcase Jawed in conversation with creative director of Oijo Media and co-founder of the Indian History Collective, Pragya Tiwari, to dive into this saga of food, lust, loss, and vulnerabilities.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

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Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

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