Jaipur Literature Festival 2020: Here are some sessions to look forward to

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Jaipur Literature Festival:  Elizabeth Gilbert, Abhijit Banerjee and Jokha-Alharthi will be at the event. (Source: File; designed by Gargi Singh)

Jaipur Literature Festival which is its 13th year — it kicked off in 2006 — has evolved into more of a cultural event. Every year, readers and authors arrive at the city, make their way to the Diggi Palace and spend five days attending sessions, listening to various authors, and in parting, make plans for next year.

This year, the festival will take place from January 23-27 and as always there is a list of stellar authors lined up. Most of you must have made plans for now, but in case you need some help, here are some of our suggestions.

23 January

11:15 AM - 12:15 PM

Every year there are some authors who are considered the "prime attractions" if you will. And this year, the person is Eat, Pray Love author Elizabeth Gilbert. She will be in conversation with Alexandra Pringle.

12:30 PM - 1:30 PM

Bengali writer, Manoranjan Byapari, bengali author, indian express, indian express news

Manoranjan Byapari and with translator Sipra Mukherjee at an event in Delhi. (Photo: Abhinav Saha)

History has a significant role in the present discourse. There has been a constant revisiting and reimagining of stories that we have left behind. In this context, the session -- Akbar and Dara -- seems timely, for in this Supriya Gandhi and Manimugdha Sharma will speak to William Dalrymple about Mughal ruler Akbar, his religious tolerance, the way his grandson Dara Shukoh, who exhibited similar values, comes across as a natural successor. In the session, the speakers will talk about the rising hatred towards Mughal history in present-day India, the way the country is different from Mughal Hindustan and examine the relevance of the two historical figures.

There is also another interesting session titled — There's Gunpowder in the Air — where author Manoranjan Byapari will speak with Anu Singh Choudury about his novel of the same name.

2:30 PM - 3:30 PM

During the session, Present Tense, where Navdeep Suri, Fintan O'Toole, Omar Ghobash and Marcus Moench will be in conversation with Rajini Vaidyanathan. The bunch of speakers will look at the conflicted present we are living in, the water crisis and climate change plaguing us.

In a parallel session, Adèle, Leïla Slimani, author of Lullaby and the first Moroccan woman to win France's most prestigious literary prize, the Prix Goncourt for the said novel will be in conversation with author Avni Doshi. Named after the protagonist of her novel, Adèle Slimani will shed light on her compelling work.

Another session to look out for is Sanskrit as a living language. Amidst the constant negotiation and censorship of languages, ​​​​​​​Rachel Dwyer, Oscar Pujol, Madhura Godbole will talk to Makarand R Paranjape to understand the accessibility of Sanskrit, the role it played in our daily lives, and the way it permeated into our culture.

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3:45 PM - 4:45 PM

Much has been written by Susan Sontag, the filmmaker-activist was exceedingly prolific with several essays, novels to her credit. In her biography Susan by ​​​​​​​Benjamin Moser, he writes about her private life, her crippling insecurity and the self she hid from the world. The session is titled On Susan Sontag where Moser will be in conversation with Chiki Sarkar.

4:45 PM - 5:15 PM

Last year, there has been a wave of political biographies turning attention to several leaders and their lives. In the session Vivekanand, Savarkar and Patel: Echoes from the Past. Vikram Sampath, Hindol Sengupta and Makarand R Paranjape will talk about the three figures who have been both formidable and inextricable in the foundation of India- Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Swami Vivekananda.

You can attend another session, Darjeeling Express: Of Food and Friendship where chef Asma Khan who catapulted into stardom with Chef’s Table on Netflix, will talk to Shunali Khullar Shroff about her journey, the secret to her success and how her Michelin-awarded London restaurant, Darjeeling Express, upholds and celebrates her Mughal ancestry and the chaotic streets of Calcutta. There will also be Krishnendu Ray, academic and scholar of food studies at New York University. In The Ethnic Restaurateur. He will look at his experience, sieve through his memories and share the aspirations shared by immigrants who work in the food industry.

24 January

10:00 AM - 11:00 AM

Booker Prize winner Howard Jacobson has just come up with his new novel, Live A Little and in the session of the same name, he will be in conversation with Chandrahas Choudhury with has all the bearings of the author's trademark style- profundity wrapped up in wit.

At about the same time another session She-Merchants Buccaneers and Gentlewomen; British Women in India will take place. Katie Hickman, author of a book of the same novel will be in conversation with Bee Rowlatt talking about hundreds of women who had come to India two and a half centuries before the Raj did. They had come to India looking for a better life and at a time when memsahib was not uttered as a snigger but in awe.

There will also be an extremely interesting session titled A K Ramanujan: A Poet's Diary, which, as the name suggests, will be about the poems by him. After his premature death in 1993, his journals and notes were with the University of Chicago. Later, his son Krishna Ramanujan and Guillermo Rodriguez edited and published them Journeys: A Poet’s Diary. These provide a glimpse of the celebrated scholar's singular vision.

Both of them will be in conversation with poet and curator Ranjit Hoskote, talking about the way brought they Ramanujan’s writing to his readers.

11:15 AM - 12:15 PM

In 2019, Omani writer Jokha Alharthi was awarded the prestigious Man Booker International Prize for her novel, Celestial Bodies. In the session titled the same, she will be in conversation with Dr Mohamed Zarrouk and Prof Zikrur Rahman, shedding light on the way she documented love but mostly loss through her novel.

Along with this, another session Women and Work will take place where Anuradha Bhagwati, Asma Khan, Amita Nigam Sahaya and Namita Waikar will be in conversation with Namita Bhandare will examine and analyse women's working lives which are not just under-appreciated but also prematurely hindered.

12:30 PM - 1:30 PM

In the session, Gandhi in our times, Talat Ahmed, Makarand R. Paranjape and Ramesh Sharma will be in conversation with Ruchira Gupta trying to understand the relevance of Gandhi in the present world, his teachings and the way they have been redesigned to fit convenient narratives.

2:30 PM - 3:30 PM

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Shashi Tharoor will also be present at the literary event. (Express photo: Tashi Tobgyal)

In the session, Shashi on Shashi, author and politician Shashi Tharoor will be in conversation with Michael Dwyer and will talk about his affinity for verbose yet charming vocabulary. He will also share the many beliefs that have endured these many years and stayed with him.

3:45 PM - 4:45 PM

Ruchira Gupta, Benjamin Dix and Sholeh Wolpé, each celebrated figures in their own rights, will be in conversation with Vani Tripathi Tikoo in the session Ways of Seeing: The Power and Politics of Representation will extensively talk about women participation and why it matters.

5:15 PM - 6:15 PM

If women write differently, are women written about differently? In the session, The Lives of Women, biographers Bettany Hughes, Benjamin Moser, Jung Chang, Lindsey Hilsum and Hallie Rubenhold will be in conversation with Anita Anand and look at the challenges writing about women's lives entail.

In a parallel session, titled Bottle of Lies: The Inside Story of the Generic Drug Boom, Katherine Eban will be in conversation with Jeffrey Gettleman, talking about her book of the same name and underlining the intricate working of the drug industry and the biggest frauds which lie embedded.

25 January

10:00 AM - 11:00 AM

In the session, Kali's Daughter: Coming out as a Dalit, Yashica Dutt, author of Coming Out as a Dalit, and Raghav Chandra, who wrote Daughter will be in conversation with Pragya Tiwari sharing their take on identity, politics and the way to social equity.

At another session, David Godwin, who has represented Vikram Seth, Arundhati Roy and many others, will talk to Nilanjana S Roy answering what does a literary agent primarily do. It is titled David Godwin on the work of a literary agent.

1:15 PM - 12:15 PM

In the session, Of the people, by the people: The Indian Constitution, Navin Chawla, Madhav Khosla and Margaret Alva will be in conversation with Saif Mahmood and attempt to deconstruct the most significant text: The Constitution.

12:30 PM - 1:30 PM

Four writers from north-eastern India, Easterine Kire, Arambam Ongbi Memchoubi and Mridul Haloi, will be in conversation with Urvashi Butalia in the session, The Rivers, The Sky, The Self, talking about myths, folklore and their respective works.

2:30 PM - 3:30 PM

In the session, Faiz and Firaq, the Aesthetics and Politics of Poetry, Saif Mahmood, Chinmayi Tripathi and Nishtha Gautam will delve into Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Firaq Gorakhpuri urf Raghupati Sahay as they intend to perform and critique.

3:45 PM - 4:45 PM

Film director, screenwriter and producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra will be in conversation with Shunali Khullar Shroff to talk about his new film, Shikara. The film narrates the plight of the Kashmiri Pandits who were compelled to leave their land in 1990.

5:15 PM - 6:15 PM

Elizabeth Gilbert, Leïla Slimani, Avni Doshi, John Lanchester and Howard Jacobson will be in conversation with Damian and unpack the mystery of fiction and the joy and pain of creating characters. The session is titled Where does fiction come from?

26 January

10:00 AM - 11:00 AM

Author, American Shakespearean and literary historian Stephen Greenblatt will talk with director Vishal Bhardwaj underscoring the relevance of the bard in the session, Tyrant,: Shakespeare on Politics.

In another session, Hitesh Shankar, Swapan Dasgupta, Saba Naqvi and Makarand R Paranjape will be in conversation with Pragya Tiwari, talking about the ideologies significance of Hindu nationalism. The session is titled Eyes Right: Awakening Bharatmata.

11:15 AM - 12:15 PM

In the session, Negotiating the male space in contemporary fiction. Roshan Ali, Arunava Sinha, Perumal Murugan and Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar will be in conversation with Manasi Subramanian. They will attempt to explore and understand the idea of masculinity and its role in fiction

12:30 PM - 1:30 PM

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Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee in Kolkata. (Express photo by Partha Paul)

Nobel laureate Abhijit V Banerjee will be in conversation with Sreenivasan Jain at the session, Poor Economics: Fighting Global Poverty. Banerjee will talk about alleviation of poverty and the need to place their decision-making at the very centre of the process.

In another session at the same time, Ravish Kumar will be in conversation with Nilanjana S Roy at the session Bolna hi hai: What must be said, gauging the responsibilities of journalism.

3:45 PM - 4:45 PM

Katie Hickman, Howard Jacobson, Elizabeth Gilbert, Peter Hessler and Suketu Mehta will be in conversation with William Dalrymple in the session, The Travel Session. As the name suggests, they will be talking on travel writing and its need in the age of Google maps and the internet.

5:15 PM - 6:15 PM

Rima Hooja, Manu S Pillai and Anabel Loyd will talk about the need to preserve the past, to archive memory while looking at what those who lived left behind. The session is titled Vanished Stories.

27 January

10:00 AM - 11:00 AM

Dia Mirza, Renata Lok-Dessallien, Sonam Wangchuk, Apoorva Oza, Namita Waikar and Shubhangi Swarup will be in conversation with Samir Saran talking about climate change and the need to make amends. The session is titled Climate Emergency.

12:30 PM - 1:30 PM

Christina Lamb, Anand Gopal, Dexter Filkins and Lindsey Hilsum will talk to Rajini Vaidyanathan to understand what are the makings of a war journalist. The session is titled The Frontline Club.

3:45 PM - 4:45 PM

Frank Dikötter will be in conversation with Rajini Vaidyanathan to conjure a compelling portrait of dictatorship, demonstrate what are the markers to their personality and also will provide a map of sorts to understand and see through their lies. The session is titled, How to be a Dictator: The cult of personality in the twentieth century.

5:15 PM - 6:15 PM

Closing debate by John Lanchester, Nilanjana S Roy, Rana Ayyub, Marcus du Sautoy, Faye D'Souza and Siddharth Vardarajan will take sides to understand if social media gas divided society. It will be moderated by Sonia Singh.