Jaipur Literature Festival 2020: The sessions we’re most looking forward to
Jaipur Literature Festival 2020: The sessions we’re most looking forward to
22 January 2020
Asia House is delighted to be attending Jaipur Literature Festival 2020 (23-27 January) – famously dubbed the “greatest literary show on Earth”.
With more than 200 sessions and more than 500 speakers spanning across five days, planning your visit – among 400,000+ other attendees – isn’t an easy task. After a lot of deliberation and scrutiny of the programme, we’ve come up with a list of some of the sessions that we’re most looking forward to (while simultaneously wishing we could be in two – or more – sessions at once).
10.00 – 11.00 INAUGURAL SESSION: EACH OTHER’S STORIES
Chief Guest: Hon.Chief Minister Shri.Ashok Gehlot
Opening Address: Namita Gokhale, William Dalrymple and Sanjoy K. Roy
Keynote Address: Marcus du Sautoy and Shubha Mudgal
11.15 – 12.15 MYTHOLOGY FOR THE MILLENNIAL
Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan and Anand Neelakantan in conversation with Malashri Lal, introduced by Jaishree Periwal
Even as books around mythological themes consistently top the bestseller charts, references to ancient epics abound in every aspect of public and private life, from advertising to politics. Well-known writers bridge the generational gap to search how and why millennials reinterpret the vast body of Indian myth to understand and make sense of their own times and situations.
12.30 – 13.30 THERE’S GUNPOWDER IN THE AIR
Manoranjan Byapari in conversation with Anu Singh Choudury
‘There’s Gunpowder in the Air’ is set in the Naxalbari movement of the early 70s and is a scathing exploration of how human idealism is systematically decimated, and was on the shortlist for both the JCB Prize for Literature and the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature. Manoranjan Byapari learnt how to read and write while in jail at the age of 24 and rose to fame over the past two years as one of the most celebrated writers of Dalit literature in Bengali today.
14.30 – 15.30 ADÈLE
Leïla Slimani in conversation with Avni Doshi
Leïla Slimani is the first Moroccan woman to win France’s most prestigious literary prize, the Prix Goncourt, which she won for Lullaby. A journalist and frequent commentator on women’s and human rights, she is French president Emmanuel Macron’s personal representative for the promotion of the French language and culture.
15.45 – 16.45 THE HIDDEN HISTORY OF BURMA
Thant Myint-U in conversation with Suhasini Haidar
In his perceptive and enlightening new work ‘The Hidden History of Burma: Race, Capitalism, and the Crisis of Democracy in the 21st Century’, historian Thant Myint-U raises concerns about the status of democracy and questions the political assumptions of his country.
17.15 – 18.15 THE NEW SILK ROADS: THE PRESENT AND FUTURE OF THE WORLD
Peter Frankopan introduced by Bruno Maçães
Peter Frankopan’s ‘Silk Roads’, a major reassessment of world history, has sold over a million copies worldwide. Its sequel, ‘The New Silk Roads’, takes a fresh look at the relationships being formed along the length and breadth of the ancient trade routes today. The world is changing dramatically and in an age of Brexit and Trump, the themes of isolation and fragmentation permeating the western world stand in sharp contrast to events along the Silk Roads, where ties are being strengthened and mutual cooperation established.
10.00 – 11.00 SHE MERCHANTS BUCCANEERS AND GENTLEWOMEN: BRITISH WOMEN IN INDIA
Katie Hickman in conversation with Bee Rowlatt
In this landmark session, celebrated chronicler Katie Hickman, in conversation with Bee Rowlatt uncovers stories, until now hidden from history. Through diaries, letters and memoirs, many still in manuscript form, this exciting book reveals the extraordinary life and times of hundreds of women who made their way across the sea and changed history.
11.15 – 12.15 CELESTIAL BODIES
Jokha Alharthi and Zikrur Rahman in conversation with Mohamed Zarrouk
Omani writer Jokha Alharthi was awarded the Man Booker International Prize for the year 2019 for her magnificent novel Celestial Bodies. She is the first Arabic-language winner of the prize. Originally entitled “Sayyidat al-Qamr” (“Ladies of the Moon”), this inventive, multigenerational tale is set in the fictional desert village of al-Awafi. In conversation with Dr. Mohamed Zarrouk and Prof. Zikrur Rahman, she speaks of her novel’s exploration – through the prism of one family’s losses and loves – of Oman’s coming-of-age.
12.30 – 13.30 WINNERS TAKE ALL: THE ELITE CHARADE OF CHANGING THE WORLD
Anand Giridharadas in conversation with Åsne Seierstad
Writer and TIME editor-at-large Anand Giridharadas takes on the privileged classes in his scorching new book, the bestselling Winners Take All. It investigates the global elite’s efforts to ‘change the world’ except in ways that threaten the social order and their position atop it. This searing critique of modern plutocrats who seek to do more good but never less harm is described as a call to action for elites and everyday citizens alike. A session that offers transformative perspectives to complex societal problems. In conversation with Åsne Seierstad.
13.40 – 14.20 THE BLACK DWARVES OF THE GOOD LITTLE BAY
by Varun Thomas Mathew in conversation with Devapriya Roy, launch by Mahua Moitra
14.30 – 15.30 ASIA RISING
Bruno Maçães, Shivshankar Menon and Deepak Nayyar in conversation with Suhasini Haidar
With Asia at the centre of international geopolitics, an incisive session examines the players and positions amidst shifting perspectives and situations. Bruno Maçães’ recent books include ‘The Dawn of Eurasia: On the Trail of a New World Order’, an account of the coming integration of Europe and Asia. Shivshankar Menon’s latest book, ‘Past Present: India in Asian Geopolitics’, takes a long deep look at the Asian story. Deepak Nayyar is author of ‘Resurgent Asia’, which highlights development and economic transformation over the past 50 years. Together, in conversation with journalist Suhasini Haidar, they discuss and dissect Asia’s place in the new world order.
15.45 – 16.45 CLIENT EARTH
Martin Goodman, Jairam Ramesh and David Wallace-Wells in conversation with Jeffrey Gettleman
Every bit as radical the name suggests, ClientEarth continues to be a necessary intervention in times of rampant ecological devastation. Comprising of a bastion of passionate and purposeful lawyers, the revolutionary non-profit law organisation has sought to represent the Earth and advocate for its interests.
17.15 – 18.15 BIG TECH, SURVEILLANCE CAPITALISM, DATA HARVESTING AND THE CYBER FUTURE
10.00 – 11.00 KALI’S DAUGHTER: COMING OUT AS A DALIT
Yashica Dutt and Raghav Chandra in conversation with Pragya Tiwari
A moving and disturbing session that transposes personal memoir and fictional narrative to probe the hurt and injustice of the caste system.
11.15 – 12.15 PARTITION VOICES
Kavita Puri and Sam Dalrymple in conversation with Aanchal Malhotra
In ‘Partition Voices’, Kavita Puri helps break the silence and confronts the difficult truths at the heart of contemporary South Asia with fellow Partition-authority, Aanchal Malhotra and Sam Dalrymple, co-founder of Project Dastaan, a peace-building initiative that aims to revisit Partition memories and examine the impact of forced human migration through virtual reality.
12.30 – 13.30 THE GIRL FROM ALEPPO: NUJEEN’S ESCAPE FROM WAR TO FREEDOM
Christina Lamb in conversation with Suhasini Haidar
In conversation with Suhasini Haidar, Lamb tells the story of what it is really like to be a refugee, to have grown up in a dictatorship only for your life to be blighted by war, to have left a beloved homeland to become dependent on others. It is the story of our times told through the incredible bravery of one remarkable girl determined to keep smiling.
13.40 – 14.20 LOW
Jeet Thayil in conversation with Nandini Nair, launch by David Godwin
Heady, heartbroken and heartfelt, Low is a blazing joyride through the darklands of grief towards obliteration and, perhaps, epiphany.
Payal Arora and Jaspreet Bindra in conversation with Vindu Goel
Digital anthropologist Payal Arora examines the online lives of millions of people in China, Brazil, India and across the Middle East in her insightful book ‘The Next Billion Users : Digital Life Beyond the West’. Jaspreet Bindra’s recent ‘The Tech Whisperer’ speaks of digital transformations and disruptions, and the technologies that enable this shift. In conversation with Vindu Goel, they discuss different aspects of emergent technologies and how to leverage them in a constantly changing and ever more connected world, with particular reference to the needs and aspirations of the next billion users.
15.45 – 16.45 TWO WOMEN WALKING KABUL
Christina Lamb and Taran N. Khan in conversation
War zones are implicitly forbidden spaces for most, which makes two women talking about their experiences in Kabul all the more radical. Acclaimed journalists Christina Lamb and Taran N. Khan share their accounts of exploring a region that has been relegated to a particular kind of lens and reinvent the idea of navigating traditionally conflicted lands.
16.45 – 17.15 THE SHAADI STORY: BEHIND THE SCENES OF THE BIG FAT INDIAN WEDDING
by Amita Nigam Sahay in cnversation with Devapriya Roy, launch by Amitabh Kant
What makes the Big Fat Indian Wedding so central to our lives? In ‘The Shaadi Story’, social entrepreneur Amita Nigam Sahaya takes a fascinating look at the history, religious traditions, societal attitudes, industry and modern adaptations of the North Indian Hindu wedding and beyond.
17.15 – 18.15 WHERE DOES FICTION COME FROM?
Elizabeth Gilbert, Leïla Slimani, Avni Doshi, John Lanchester and Howard Jacobson in conversation with Damian Barr
Where does fiction come from? What is the process of its creation? How do you make up characters and situations that are believable- and why should the reader care? Five of the world’s most acclaimed novelists —Elizabeth Gilbert, Leïla Slimani, Avni Doshi, John Lancaster and Howard Jacobson— share their insights on the art of the novel with Damian Barr.
10.00 – 11.00 UNINHABITABLE EARTH
David Wallace-Wells, John Lanchester, Marcus Moench and Navroz K. Dubash in conversation with Prem Jha
An urgent session that brings together a panel of environmental researchers and activists, and analyses measures to mitigate the greatest challenge humanity faces today.
11.15 – 12.15 THE ANARCHY
William Dalrymple introduced by Manu S. Pillai
‘The Anarchy’ tells the remarkable story of how one of the world’s most magnificent empires disintegrated and came to be replaced by a dangerously unregulated private company, based thousands of miles overseas in one small office, five windows wide, and answerable only to its distant shareholders. In his most ambitious and riveting book to date, William Dalrymple unfolds a timely cautionary tale of the first global corporate power.
12.30 – 13.30 POOR ECONOMICS: FIGHTING GLOBAL POVERTY
Abhijit V. Banerjee in conversation with Sreenivasan Jain
In conversation with journalist Sreenivasan Jain, Abhijit V. Banerjee explains the need to understand and measure what happens in the real world to alleviate poverty and the necessity of making the poor and their decision-making central to the process. An inspirational session of insights and learnings vital to understanding our world.
13.40 – 14.20 WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS
Conversation with 4 Young Changemakers (featured in the book) and Authors Rashmi Bansal and Devendra Tak, launch by Diya Kumari
‘We Are the Champions’ is the story of 15 boys and girls from across India who, often against daunting odds, have struggled for improving the lives of underprivileged children, and to bring improvement in society. The children bring to light the problems and solutions linked to capital punishment, casteism, child labour, child marriage, dowry, drugs, education, environment degradation, gender discrimination, health, hygiene, inequity, trafficking and water and sanitation.
14.30 – 15.30 AI AND CREATIVITY
Marcus du Sautoy in conversation with Sanjoy K. Roy
As Artificial Intelligence takes over human narratives, Marcus du Sautoy questions the shape of our future. In his book ‘The Creativity Code: How AI is Learning to Write, Paint and Think’, he expounds on how algorithms work, the nature of creativity and how engineers are tracking our emotional responses to art. In a riveting session, du Sautoy, the Simonyi Professor for Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University, discusses intuition, the creative process and its correlation with mathematics.
15.45 – 16.45 NATIONALISM, POPULISM AND THE FATE OF THE WORLD
Simon Schama introduced by Frank Dikötter
We are on the precipice of a socio-political reckoning as regimes become more nationalistic and protests erupt in all corners of the world, and populist understanding of democracy and institutions invite close scrutiny. Simon Schama wrestles with the fate of the world as it presents itself today by looking back at the roots and development of nationalism, and more tellingly, revisiting the first modern postwar orchestration of militant tribalism over 30 years ago in Yugoslavia by Slobodan Milosevic and his allies.
10.00 – 11.00 CLIMATE EMERGENCY
Dia Mirza, Renata Lok-Dessallien, Sonam Wangchuk, Apoorva Oza, Namita Waikar and Shubhangi Swarup in conversation with Samir Saran
Saving our planet is not just the subject of passionate political debate. The message is clear: everyone is responsible for creating a more environmentally sustainable world – governments, private sector, think tanks, academic institutions, etc. And the arts and cultural sector are no exception. Cultural organisations are in a unique position to challenge, inform and engage audiences in conversations about the environment.
11.15 – 12.15 INDLIT: MANY LANGUAGES, ONE LITERATURE
KR Meera, Shubhangi Swarup and Aruni Kashyap in conversation with Arunava Sinha
The landscape of Indian literature is multilingual and multivocal with 22 official languages and thousands of mother tongues and dialects. A session that interrogates and celebrates the unity in this diversity with three celebrated writers reading from their works, in Malayalam, Assamese and English, as they discuss the literary and linguistic context of their inspirations.
12.30 – 13.30 THE FRONTLINE CLUB
Christina Lamb, Anand Gopal, Dexter Filkins and Lindsey Hilsum in conversation with Rajini Vaidyanathan
Hollywood has long glamourised the war journalist as a hard drinking chancer, taking extreme risks to get the big Pulitzer-winning front page spread. Here, celebrated foreign correspondents- Christina Lamb, Anand Gopal, Dexter Filkins and Lindsey Hilsum lift the lid on one of the glamorous and dangerous jobs in journalism, parsing myth from reality in conversation with the BBC’s South Asia correspondent, Rajini Vaidyanathan.
13.40 – 14.20 SECRETS OF AMBER
by Rashmi Dickinson, in conversation about responsible and sustainable tourism with Hon. Tourism Minister Vishvendra Singh Bharatpur and Edward Dickinson
Secrets of Amber contains 12 beautifully illustrated walks around the ancient walled town of Amber, to encourage responsible & sustainable tourism. Learning from the experience of the World Heritage Site Amber Fort, the conversation will focus on the need for responsible & sustainable tourism, how this can be developed in practice and and the potential benefits for host communities & visitors.
15.45 – 16.45 HOW TO BE A DICTATOR: THE CULT OF PERSONALITY IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
Frank Dikötter in conversation with Rajini Vaidyanathan
In ‘How to Be a Dictator’, Frank Dikötter examines the cults and propaganda surrounding 20th century dictators, from Hitler and Stalin to Mao Zedong and Kim Il Sung. Their dictatorships, in turn, have influenced leaders in the 21st century, including Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping and Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Using a breadth of archival research and his characteristic in-depth analysis, Dikötter, speaking to journalist Rajini Vaidyanathan, offers a stunning portrait of dictatorship, a guide to the cult of personality and a map for exposing the lies dictators tell to build and maintain their regimes.
17.15 – 18.15 DEBATE: SOCIAL MEDIA HAS DIVIDED SOCIETY
John Lanchester, Nilanjana S. Roy, Rana Ayyub, Marcus du Sautoy, Faye D’Souza and Siddharth Vardarajan, moderated by Sonia Singh
Find out more about JLF 2020 at www.jaipurliteraturefestival.org and stay tuned to receive our updates from the ground.