India’s Jaipur Literature Festival, the largest free event dedicated to literature and the arts which closed on 21 Jan, has made all its panel discussions available on YouTube: ahramonline

Recorded by the organisers, over 170 discussion panels between 240 great minds of the 21st century attending the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) between 17 and 21 January are now available for viewing on YouTube.

In Jaipur in winter, master wordsmiths regale readers in the grip of booklust: Satish Padmanabhan in The Outlook

Franzen is a big man with a slow, gentle demeanour and a deep, American Midwest drawl, who rarely makes eye contact and speaks mostly looking down at his knees with his hands hunched together. He reminds you of Stephen King with more kempt hair. He lingers thoughtfully on what he is trying to say, as well as what you’ve asked him. He talks about short stories and how it’s a most difficult art form. “Reading a short story is like confronting death. You know it’s going to end soon and my eyes start to moisten.” His standout moment of last year was when Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize for literature and he wonders why her stories are not made into films.

It was at JLF that I realised that there were so many good authors out there, writing on subjects as varied as black holes, the sexual lives of people in Arabic countries, Pompeii, gender fluidity, peace in Afghanistan, the Great Gatsby, crime in fiction, the immigrant experience, mathematics and what seemed to be the festival favourite: women and their rights. 

C P Surendran: “Writing, in all its forms, is a highly neurotic activity. There is an undercurrent of anger and marginalisation that find expression in writing.” – DNA

Few people know that Paresh Barua, the chief of the separatist group ULFA, is also a poet. But apparently, once, when a poet had published a verse missive in an Assamese literary journal asking what Baruah thought freedom was, he chose to reply in verse that he too was a poet dreaming of freedom but since it wasn’t time yet to give up the gun, he’d chosen it over the pen.

william_dalrympleWilliam Dalrymple’s duck-billed smartphone is a lot like the Jaipur Literature Festival that he co-directs: a clever core with a showy outer shell of fun.

The author and historian carries the bright-yellow-phone between venues of probably the world’s largest free literature festival as he moderates sessions on his beloved nonfiction, explains to young acolytes how he goes about his meticulous historical research, and thanks authors for attending.

India may dream in Hindi but aspires to write in English, is the argument presented by Aditi Maheshwari, director Vani Publications at the Jaipur Literature Festival here.

“India may dream in Hindi, sleep in Hindi, but it aspires to read in English. The population of Hindi readers is much fewer than English readers in India,” Maheshwari said at the concluding day of festival on Tuesday. 

Xiaolu Guo warns that English-language mainstream has warped a broader ‘reading habit’, on panel with Jhumpa Lahiri and Jonathan Franzen: The Guardian

Xiaolu GuoAmerican literature is “massively overrated”, the award-winning author and film-maker Xiaolu Guo told the Jaipur literature festival – and fellow panellist and US novelist Jonathan Franzen – this weekend.

A session on the global novel in Jaipur on Saturday saw the Chinese/British writer Guo, one of Granta’s best of young British novelists who has also been shortlisted for the Orange prize, attack the way “our reading habit has totally been transformed by the mainstream”.

Cookbooks have never been considered a part of “literature” but now times have changed and so have the avatars of cookbooks, says Masterchef Vikas Khanna.

“Chefs were never referred to as icons of culture earlier but now they are. Food is an important part of culture and now our literature as well. A chef being here is an example of it,” he said on the sidelines of ongoing Jaipur Literature Festival.