Focus on women in literature at JLF 2023

A host of women writers will showcase works

Geetanjali Shree, writer and winner of International Booker Prize 2022. Photo Teamwork Arts

The 16th edition of the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF), set to run from 19 to 23 January at Hotel Clarks Amer, Jaipur, will showcase a range of women writers and their exemplary works.

A session will discuss how one captures the life of a woman in a piece of writing. This panel of speakers will feature authors Emily Perkins, Eugenia Kuznetsova, Ana Filomena Amaral, and Tadhg Mac Dhonnagáin in conversation with writer Saskya Jain. The panel will discuss the socio-cultural and political implications of writing with a feminine gaze.

Booker Prize winner Bernardine Evaristos memoir, Manifesto: On Never Giving Up, is an inspirational account of her life and career as she rebelled against the mainstream and fought over several decades to bring her creative work into the world. Evaristo will be in conversation with journalist and writer, Nandini Nair where she will present her reimagined memoir and an essential manual for creativity, activism, and reinvention. At another session, International Booker Prize winner Geetanjali Shree and translator Daisy Rockwell will be in conversation with Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar winner Tanuj Solanki. This session in Hindi will focus on the original novel– its experimental storytelling, its innovative digressions, and its viewpoint on the Partition through an octogenarian protagonist.  

Philanthropist and writer Sudha Murty will be in conversation with former editor-in-chief of Penguin Random House India, Meru Gokhale, where she will present a pragmatic worldview that is nevertheless based on compassion and empathy. At another literary session, writer, publisher and festival co-director Namita Gokhale will be in conversation with journalist Mandira Nayar for an insightful discussion on Gokhale’s life which has been woven around books — her own and those written by others. 

Taking the conversations forward, a session will showcase author Alka Saraogi, 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. 

Pop icon Usha Uthup has enthralled listeners for generations. In his evocative Hindi biography, The Queen of Indian Pop: The Authorised Biography of Usha Uthup, translated into English by his daughter, Srishti Jha, Vikas Kumar Jha captures Uthup’s colorful and inspiring career. From Uthup’s childhood days in Mumbai to her first gigs and meteoric rise to stardom, through strife, celebration, and intimate musings, this engrossing biography is a testament to the evergreen legacy of the legendary songstress. In conversation with author Sathya Saran, Uthup and Jha will discuss music, memories, milestones, and the book that captures them all. 

A session titled ‘Lata ji – A Life In Music’ will feature celebrated poet, music and cinema scholar Yatindra Mishra in conversation with translator and writer Anu Singh Choudhary. Delving into little-known details of the late Lata Mangeshkar’s long and illustrious journey as a vocalist and playback singer, Mishra creates 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.

The festival will also feature author and celebrated actress Deepti Naval, who will be seen in conversation with philanthropist and entrepreneur Surina Narula for Naval’s recent work A Country Called Childhood.

Author Kishwar Desai will be in conversation with bureaucrat and IRS officer Nirupama Kotru, where they will discuss Desai’s book The Longest Kiss: The Life and Times of Devika Rani. The session will chart the fascinating life and career of India’s first international superstar, Devika Rani. At another session, academic Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni will be in conversation with writer and oral historian Aanchal Malhotra for her novel, Independence, which focuses on a moving tale of three sisters and their individual yet intertwined experience of the Partition of 1947. Moving fluidly across the roots of love, loss, family and legacy, Divakaruni will present this heartwrenching family saga set against the backdrop of national upheaval. 

Jaipur Bookmark

A Jaipur BookMark session at the Festival, in collaboration with the Women Translating Women initiative of the Ashoka Centre for Translation, will host a panel discussion with feminist writer, translator, and co-founder of Zubaan, Urvashi Butalia, and multilingual scholar, translator and Professor of English at Ashoka University, Rita Kothari, in conversation with publisher and translation consultant Neeta Gupta. 

A session titled ‘Women and Work’ will feature authors Shaili Chopra, Minnie Vaid and former IFS officer and Ambassador Lakshmi Puri in conversation with the UN Women Country Representative Susan Ferguson. This panel of women from diverse backgrounds will discuss the causes and consequences of the roadblocks that have come up in the way of a working woman’s working life in the past, present and future. Art historian and curator Katy Hessel is pioneering a corrective to dismantle the long reign of men in the art scene. The Story of Art Without Men, in conjunction with her blog titled ‘The Great Women Artists’, revives the legacy of women artists from the 1500s to the 21st century encapsulating focal points in art history from dadaism to civil rights and antiracism. In conversation with art historian Xavier Bray, Hessel will discuss the historical documentation of art and her attempts at dismantling patriarchy within the art world.

Internationally bestselling historian Katie Hickman brings together extraordinary stories of women who participated in the greatest mass migration in American history in her latest book Brave Hearted: The Women of the American West. During a session at the Festival, Hickman will be in conversation with author Bee Rowlatt, where she will discuss the women of the American West and their reservoir of courage and resilience in the face of life-threatening change. 

Author of Spy Princess: The Story of Noor Inayat Khan, Shrabani Basu and author of Lonely Courage, Rick Stroud, will be seen at a session discussing the eventful life of Noor Inaayat Khan, a descendant of Tipu Sultan, who was the only Asian secret agent in Europe in World War II, and the first woman wireless operator to be flown into occupied France during the War.

At the Festival, a session will feature award-winning journalist and author Nilanjana Bhowmick and Deputy Country Representative, UN Women India, Kanta Singh for a discussion on Bhowmick’s recent book Lies Our Mothers Told Us: The Indian Woman’s Burden. The book focuses on the story of countless Indian women who have fought for and won equal rights in multiple areas since the 19th century.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

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.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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