British Council hosts Delhi preview of JLF London

7 – 9 June 2024 at British Library, London

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JLF London
(L-R): Sanjoy K Roy, managing director, Teamwork Arts: Alison Barrett MBE, director India , British Council_ author & festival co-director Namita Gokhale and author Vikas Swarup at the Delhi Preview of the upcoming JLF London. Photo JLF

Teamwork Arts and the British Council in Delhi, hosted an exclusive preview of the JLF London on 30 May, which will celebrate its 11th year in the British capital. Organized by Teamwork Arts, the preview provided a glimpse into the diverse sessions planned for the festival, set to take place at the British Library from 7 – 9 June 2024. JLF London at the British Library brings the vibrant energy of the annual Jaipur Literature Festival to London, offering a rich blend of literary and cultural dialogs.  

Namita Gokhale, festival co-director, Sahitya Akademi awardee and author, said, “The JLF International editions have a special connectivity with London and its deep literary legacy. June 2024 marks the 11th year of our festival in this city of words. JLF London at the British Library will bring books and ideas, poetry and music alive for readers and book lovers. We come together with our shared narratives and celebrate the human spirit. We try to understand our changing world. We share the gift of laughter. We are each other’s stories.”

William Dalrymple, festival co-director, writer and historian, said, “JLF London at the British Library 2024 will bring together an extraordinary array of voices from across the globe, offering a unique platform for cultural exchange and intellectual exploration. We invite everyone to join us in celebrating the transformative power of literature and ideas.”

Sanjoy K Roy, managing director, Teamwork Arts, said, “At JLF London at the British Library, we aim to create a platform where literature and art intersect with pressing global issues. This year’s program promises to inspire and challenge audiences, fostering a deeper understanding of the world around us through the power of words and storytelling.”

Alison Barrett MBE, director India, British Council, said, “ We are delighted to support Anuradha Sarma Pujari, a renowned literary voice from Assam at JLF London at the British Library 2024, as part of our ongoing commitment to taking underrepresented Indian voices and stories to new audiences in the UK. As a Sahitya Akademi Award winner and a prolific author known for her novels, essays, and short stories, Anuradha is a strong advocate for women’s narratives. Her session, with acclaimed author Namita Gokhale, promises a compelling discussion on societal constraints on female identity and the transformative power of writing.”

“Our collaboration with Teamwork Arts and our nearly two-decade partnership with JLF reflects the British Council’s intention to help strengthen networks between Indian and UK publishers and provide opportunities for authors to collaborate and share experiences. This session will help showcase the richness of Indian languages in translation and strengthen cultural exchange between UK and India,” Barrett added.

The program for JLF London at the British Library 2024 promises a rich tapestry of sessions spanning literature, history, science, and culture, featuring globally known authors, historians, scientists, and artists. Attendees can look forward to dialogs that address contemporary issues and explore diverse perspectives.

In the session ‘Forgotten Masters: Indian Painting for the East India Company’, writer, historian and festival co-director William Dalrymple will celebrate the supremely gifted Indian artists commissioned by the East India Company officials in the late 18th century. These paintings, that capture the beauty of India’s natural world and the social realities of the time, showcase the unique styles and agency of Indian artists from the 1770s to 1857. The session will be introduced by the head of Visual Arts at the British Library and a specialist in South Asian art, Malini Roy.

Death remains the most enduring truth of life. Nobel laureate Venki Ramakrishnan’s new book, Why We Die, examines both our fascination with and fear of death. Spanning across the frontiers of biology and scientific research, Ramakrishnan questions mortality and the transformation that takes place within human physiology. Ramakrishnan will discuss his work at a session in the festival.  

Vikas Swarup, whose debut novel Q & A, was adapted into the Oscar-winning adaption Slumdog Millionaire, has written a new novel called The Girl with the Seven Lives. In conversation with broadcaster Georgina Godwin, Swarup will speak about the trajectory of his writing career, looking at the ideas and words that have shaped his craft.

The British sense of humor has been the subject of bemused scrutiny by the elite classes of its former colonies. At a session, Indian comedian and screenwriter Anuvab Pal, hailed as ‘India’s Most Intelligent Comedian’ by The New York Times, will explore the British sense of humor. He will examine what makes the British smile and laugh, and through a comedic lens, interrogate the cultural nuances that define British identity.

The festival will also be graced by author, science journalist and science director of the Science Museum Group, Roger Highfield, and physicist, cosmologist, astronomer royal and a member of the House of Lords, Martin Rees. Together, they will discuss Highfield’s recent book, Stephen Hawking Genius at Work, offering a behind-the-scenes look at the life and work of one of the greatest minds in modern science. They will be in conversation with competitive poker player and author of The Truth Detective, Alex O’Brien.

Award-winning author and festival co-director Namita Gokhale and Assamese author and journalist Anuradha Sarma Pujari will talk about the invisible inhibitions and taboos on women’s social, sexual, and professional identities and how that has impacted their own breakthrough novels and writing trajectories. In conversation with journalist and author Shrabani Basu, both of the Sahitya Akademi recipient awardees will discuss their literary influences and the echoing voices of the subversive women writers in the subcontinent. The session will also highlight Gokhale’s debut novel and a Penguin Modern Classic Paro’s magnetic allure and how it became a watershed and a milestone in the country’s cultural history.

In another session, Turkish-British novelist and essayist Elif Shafak will speak about her upcoming book, There are Rivers in the Sky, a narrative of one lost poem, two great rivers, and three remarkable lives – all connected by a single drop of water.  She will be in conversation with historian and festival co-director, William Dalrymple.

The session titled ‘Broken Threads: Partition Stories’ will feature journalist Mishal Husain sharing personal and historical narratives about the Partition of India and Pakistan. In conversation with podcaster and writer Anita Anand, Husain will discuss the remnants of empire, lost families, and shared histories.

After the global success of her award–winning work, Hamnet, writer Maggie O’Farrell is back with a brilliant new novel, The Marriage Portrait. O’Farrell will discuss her new novel in a session with Elaine Canning, writer, editor, literary prize director. The novel follows the journey of Lucrezia de’ Medici in Renaissance Italy, blending historical fact with poetic fantasy.

Booker Prize winning author Paul Lynch will discuss his novel Prophet Song, set in a dystopian Ireland, in conversation with journalist Claire Armitstead. The session will explore the nuances of his writing and the story of a mother’s fight to keep her family together.

For further details on the program and to secure your spot, please visit the JLF website

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