The much-awaited ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival 2018 programme is finally out and can be found on the Festival’s website. The 11th edition of the Festival features 200 sessions spanning a multitude of topics, trends, ideas and genres ranging from fiction, poetry, nonfiction, gender, environment, science, history, liberal arts, journalism, economics, travel and cinema. The programme is a coming together of diverse literary, artistic, and discursive forms and a celebration of perspectives in Indian and global literature.
This year’s marquee sessions include British playwright Sir Tom Stoppard, winner of an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for Shakespeare in Love, discussing his life and work in a fascinating free-flowing session called The Real Thing; a discussion aptly titled The Great Survivor where Hamid Karzai, former President of Afghanistan, and William Dalrymple discuss his life, legacy and leadership through the country’s recent turbulent times, his views on India’s role in Afghanistan past and present and his predictions for the future of his country. In The Bridget Jones’ Diaries, novelist Helen Fielding speaks with publisher Meru Gokhale of the comic and the tragic, film and fiction and Bridget Jones’ bumpy ride to motherhood. In Conspiracy of Bones, which combines crime with popular science, Kathy Reichs, an American crime writer, forensic anthropologist, academic and producer of the TV series Bones (loosely based on Reichs’ works), speaks of her writing, popular science and communication, crime and punishment, gender and equity. Writer Akhil Sharma in a session called A Life of Adventure and Delight will be in conversation with Chandrahas Choudhury on his writing and the astonishing intensity and emotional precision he brings to his craft. In The Joy Luck Club, celebrated novelist Amy Tan will speak to Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi about her extraordinary life and her emergence as a writer of stature against many odds. In The Art of Stillness, British-born Indian origin essayist Pico Iyer, who leads a nomadic life between a Benedictine hermitage in California, Nara in Japan and international airports around the world, speaks with writer and historian Patrick French about his life and work, movement and stillness, changelessness and change.
Attendees can look forward to spirited sessions in poetry such as Jan Nisar and Kaifi with Javed Akhtar and Shabana Azmi in conversation with Rakhshanda Jalil; Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods with Tishani Doshi introduced by Jeet Thayil; Nude: The Poet Within in which Vishal Bhardwaj is in conversation with Sukrita Paul Kumar; and a Rajasthani bhasha session Rajasthali: Dharti Ri Koonkh with Bulaki Sharma, Abhimanyu Singh Arha and Reena Menaria in conversation with Arvind Singh Aashiya.
The programme also celebrates the diversity of languages, their enigmatic roots and multifaceted trajectories. In Lok Bhasha: The Oxford Dictionaries Hindi Word of the Year, the announcement of the first ever Oxford Dictionaries ‘Hindi Word of the Year’ will be made at the 2018 edition of the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival followed by a panel discussion with Ashok Vajpeyi, Pankaj Dubey, Saurabh Dwivedi, Vinod Dua and Yatindra Misra in conversation with Anu Singh Choudhary on new trends in Hindi usage and writing. In Hindi Medium: Language and Elitism, Annie Montaut, Avinash Das, Satya Vyas and Satyanand Nirupam will examine the value of Hindi, its position as a common language in a multilingual nation, a language steeped in deep literary traditions as well as one that is familiar within both popular culture and the marketplace. In a linguistic leap of faith, the session Shalom: Indian Jewish Fiction, writers Esther David and Sethu speak of ethnicity, community, belonging and the legacy of shared stories.
Intrepid reportage and commitment to bare facts makes journalistic writing a force unto itself. Exploring the many challenges and triumphs from the world of media writing, the programme features sessions like Spotlight: The Hunt for Truth where Portuguese-American journalist Michael Rezendes, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his investigative work as a member of The Boston Globe’s legendary Spotlight Team, speaks of the power of traditional and local reporting, the values, veracity and commitment required for investigative journalism as well as the changing definitions of news in the current media landscape. In Undercover in North Korea: Facts and Fictions, writer Suki Kim is in conversation with Michael Breen about her rare encounter with one of the world’s most secretive countries, North Korea, and of the privileged young men she calls ‘soldiers and slaves’. Manhunt: Pakistan and the Search for Bin Laden brings together three of the world’s greatest experts on Bin Laden. Peter Bergen, author of Manhunt, met and interviewed the man and later was the only journalist to gain access to bin Laden’s Abbottabad