Book readers regularly congregate for book reading sessions by authors to understand the finer nuances of literature. Similarly, book fairs offer another opportunity to browse through a vast collection of books available in the market and check out the bestsellers among them. However, among the numerous book fairs and literature festivals happening across India, one event stands tall.
Amidst the cultural backdrop of Rajasthan, the Pink City is all set to go colourful to celebrate the 10th Jaipur Literature Festival. The event is set to take place at the Diggi Palace from the third week of January. Sponsored by ZEE, the event is considered as the “greatest literary show on Earth” that celebrates the spirit of literature in India. It is the world’s largest free literature festival of its kind where literary enthusiasts can soak up speeches by renowned authors and can enjoy musical concerts, quiz contests and visual art performances.
In the previous events, eminent speakers such as Dalai Lama, Salman Rushdie, V S Naipaul, Ian McEwan, Mohammed Hanif, Oprah Winfrey, Orhan Pamuk, Pico Iyer, along with renowned Indian language writers such as Girish Karnad, Gulzar, Javed Akhtar, have added to the prestige of the event. This year as well, there are about 1,400 renowned speakers and the expected audience is around 400,000. JLF is the brain child of Sanjoy Roy, who had expected only about 300 people in the first year in 2008. Since then, the event has gained massive popularity and worldwide recognition.
In a country like ours where a large population still doesn’t have access to education, the festival provides a big leap with its free entries. The event is based on registrations and there is free entry for all speeches, while there is a delegate pass for specific events at heritage sites and cocktail parties. This egalitarian access to hear renowned writers is a powerful statement in a country where access to such insights still remains the privilege of a few.
The Jaipur Literature Festival provides a lifetime opportunity for book lovers from across India and the world to learn from and exchange ideas with literary stalwarts. Further, there is a music stage where a plethora of artistes are invited to perform.
A highlight event at the fest is the First Book Club that provides opportunity for aspiring writers. Writers can send a synopsis of their stories and the shortlisted ones are invited for a one-on-one session with literary critics, and publishers. Three years ago, JLF initiated a new initiative: Jaipur BookMark – a business to business event held parallel to JLF, which provides a platform for publishers, literary agents, authors, translation agencies to meet and discuss business deals.
“I am very excited to go to the event. Though I have stayed in Jaipur all my life, this is the first time that I will be attending the festival. I am very excited and I am proud that my city is hosting it,” commented Kanchan Yadav, 19, who has resided in Jaipur all her life. “I wanted to attend the event but also work and help to make it a success. I can’t believe that I will help the authors when they sign books!” commented Nishima Varma, 21, who is travelling from Mumbai to Jaipur just for the event. It is interesting to see such student volunteers are popularizing a festival by making it the talk of the town on social media!
As India opens up to become the world’s second largest English language publishing market behind the US, the complex and segmented Indian language market provides greater publishing opportunities in regional languages such as Hindi, Tamil, Bangla, Gujarati, etc. If you have a heart for literature and ears for oratory, then this is the event for you. Accommodation is easily available in Jaipur though the event attracts too many visitors. The blend of colours, culture, art, people, and literature, at this event provides one hell of an experience!