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ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival to transform The British Library for the first time as headline speakers and sessions are announced

On May 20th and 21st the British Library will be transformed like never before as the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival animates its iconic spaces for the first time in celebration of a significant cultural partnership. ZEE JLF@The British Library will present a sumptuous showcase of South Asia’s literary heritage, oral and performing arts, music, cinema and illusion, books and ideas, dialogue and debate, Bollywood and politics in the context of this broader view of India and its relationship to the UK.

2017 marks the fourth London edition of the Festival, which is rooted in the Pink City of Jaipur, India. Held every January, this year commemorated the 10th anniversary of the flagship event.

Festival co-directors Namita Gokhale and William Dalrymple have programmed JLF@The British Library to provide UK audiences with a taste of what is frequently referred to as ‘the greatest literary show on Earth’ in celebration of 70 years of UK-India relations. Read more

Source: India Education Diary

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Book Review: Things to leave behind by Namita Gokhale

By Dr. Pallavi Narayan

leave-behindI purposely read as little as I could about this novel before picking it up, so as not to colour my perceptions. The Prologue seemed to hint towards Hindu gods in a somewhat contrived fashion, so I was surprised that when I hunkered down to read the novel on my iPad at a coffee shop, the story was so enjoyably written that, to my surprise, I had read over 80 pages in an hour. I polished off the rest within that night and the next day.

The broad arc of the novel encompasses generations of women in the Kumaon region during the British Raj, from families based in Naineetal (that’s how it is spelt in the book) and Almora, the seemingly slow time around the placid waters of the Naina Devi Lake. However, the protagonists interestingly appear to be men, the women following them to wherever they choose to go next. Here, the author seems to be pointing to the patriarchal functioning of much of society—documenting the histories of men while conveniently absenting the women, or portraying them as shadow figures. But what the novel is primarily about is the tussle of women with their dependence on men, and how this frames a woman’s identity within that of the man “taking care” of her at the moment. Whether it is Tillotama Uprety’s mother who threw herself into the lake in perhaps a last bid for agency; herself, in a hurry to get married and move away to Almora to free herself of her (fond) uncle’s influence; her daughter Deoki, whom she neglects in favour of reading novels and imagining herself as a sahib; Deoki, who is married off to Jayesh, who falls in love with the missionary’s daughter Rosemary, and then Deoki determinedly sets about to win him back, but also in the meantime discovers how seductive she can be when she falls in love with a visiting artist who paints her in the nude; Rosemary, who single-handedly sets up her own mission and displays fortitude at not falling into sin with Jayesh, the married man who shares her feelings — the novel displays women’s agency, their emergence into their own self, even as they are bound by societal mores.

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3 Indian writers to attend Lahore fest

By Simran Sodhi

While the India-Pakistan deadlock continues over hardcore political issues, visible signs of detente have begun to emerge in areas of cultural and soft diplomacy.

Diplomatic sources confirmed to The Tribune that three Indian authors will be attending the Lahore literary festival starting February 24. The three-day event will see the participation of a number of celebrated writers and thinkers from all over South Asia.

British journalist Anita Anand and historian William Dalrymple will also be in attendance to discuss their new book Kohinoor. Interestingly, the International Advisory Committee for the Lahore Fest 2017 comprises Maina Bhagat of the Apeejay Kolkata Literature Fest and Namita Gokhale of the Jaipur Literature Festival, among others. This comes close on the heels of the previous ice breaker in the relationship with the Indian Council of Cultural Relations sponsoring four Indian authors to the Karachi literary festival held from February 10-12; known Indian author Urvashi Butalia was among those present. Read more

Source: Tribune India

 


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Heading to JLF 2017? Writers and poets pick sessions you must attend

By Aruveetil Mariyam Alavi and Supriya Sharma

Five days of literature. The most read authors and poets. The most fascinating discussions. Indian literature’s mammoth mela, the Jaipur Literature Festival, is never short of excitement. The festival, which will run from January 19 to January 23 this year, creates a problem of plenty for its eager visitors: there is too much to do, too many authors to hear, too many discussions to attend.

So before you make your must-attend-at-JLF lists, take a look at what authors, poets and other participants are looking forward to the most this year.

Namita Gokhale is one of the forces that has kept the Jaipur Literature Festival running smoothly over the years. As a writer and publisher, who is also one of the founder directors of JLF, she has some fond memories of the festival over the years.

“So many memories, layered and imprinted in my mind and heart. The keynote addresses from some of the greatest Indian writers, including Mahasweta Devi, UR Ananthamurthy, Girish Karnad, Nayantara Sahgal and so many others. The years when it rained and poured and the festival just continued calmly despite the mud and sludge. Gloria Steinem drinking chai in a kulhad, listening in to the front lawn sessions. Margaret Atwood and her sparkling mind,” she remembers. Read more

Source: Hindustan Times


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Publishers say 2017 World Book Fair a profitable affair

As the New Delhi World Book Fair comes to a close today, the nine-day long event was an “excellent” experience with leading publishing houses making significant profit on sales compared to previous years. Vimal Kumar, General Manager at Speaking Tiger said they had “unexpected sales”, despite facing several technical glitches in the aftermath of demonetisation.

“Due to demonetisation we faced several problems since many a times card machines didn’t work due to lack of signals. But, it has been an excellent experience, rather unexpected sales for Speaking Tiger. Our sales have almost doubled this year,” he said.

Some of the top sellers at the stall included ‘Himalaya: Adventures, Meditations, Life’ edited by Ruskin Bond and Namita Gokhale, and ‘Murderer in Mahim’ by Jerry Pinto among others.

For Penguin India, which saw a hike of nearly 20 per cent in business from last year’s fair, the event being moved ahead by a month from the usual February, has worked favourably. Read more

Source: The Financial Express


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Who’s who to attend 10th edition of Jaipur Literature Festival from Jan 19

The stage is set for the annual show for booklovers. The Jaipur Literature Festival, to be held between January 19 and 23, is expected to be a veritable feast this year with over 250 acclaimed authors, including Anne Waldman, Swanand Kirkire, Vikram Chandra and Tahmima Anam, to attend the event at the Jaipur’s Diggi Palace Hotel.

Having hosted 1,300 speakers and nearly 1.2 million book lovers over the last decade, the event has grown into the country’s biggest literature festival.

Organisers of the festival, in a press communiqué, said over 250 authors, thinkers, politicians, journalists and popular culture icons were expected to attend the event this year.

American poet, Anne Waldman, who has penned over 40 poetry books, will make her maiden visit to the literature festival this year. Read more

Source: Hindustan Times


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Artistic License Or Blood Money: Writers Call For Boycott of Jaipur Literary Fest Supported By Vedanta, Zee

By Gurpreet Kaur

Protests have cast a shadow of controversy over the Jaipur Literary Festival that has become an annual event attracting the literary elite from Delhi and other parts of the country. A 100 writers, academics and others have called upon all writers to pull out of the event that is being sponsored by Vedanta, infamous for ruthlessly expanding its mining projects by displacing local people and destroying their ecological environment.
The Jaipur Literary Festival, directed by writers Namita Gokhale and William Dalrymple is billed as the largest free literary festival in the world in the world.

Vedanta’s activities have according to rights groups have ruined the livelihood of thousands of people in Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Karnataka, and Rajasthan for Bauxite and iron ore mining. Anti Vedanta activists disrupted a JLF event at Southbank, London with placards and speeches as they felt that the event would give credibility to a company reportedly guilty for what they said was the death of thousands.

Activists and writers questioned Vedanta’s claim of promoting Indian literature and culture when it doesn’t even respect the environment, and the basic human rights of Adivasis. They are of the view that there is no way any self respecting writer, intellectual or critic should participate in a festival infected by Vedanta’s amoral actions. Read more

Source: The Citizen 


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Excerpts: Things to Leave Behind by Namita Gokhale

leave-behind

A howling rage took possession of the physician. ‘I’ll cure you, you glutton, for once and forever,’ he muttered to himself, and repaired to the pharmacy in the palace grounds. There, he took off his clothes and rubbed the scurf from his unwashed skin (he was not a man who favoured cleanliness) and rolled this body scurf into four miniscule pellets. These he further wrapped in silver foil, with a little cumin and asafoetida pressed in for good measure. While at it he added some anardana, the dried pomegranate seeds being his favourite ingredient and cure-all. Returning to the palace, he confronted his king. The four doses were placed on the royal tongue at quick intervals, while the fierce physician muttered curses and imprecations under his breath. These were, of course, taken as being addressed to the demon of ill health, for no one could possibly presume to be so rude to His Majesty.

By the time the third pellet was pressed into his mouth, the king was already feeling better. He beheld his loyal physician Jeewan Chandra Pant with gratitude and ordered that a bag of gold coins be given to him. The courtier who was summoned to bring the coins from the royal treasury appropriated five, but a bagful was still a bagful. The Vaidya was immediately moved to better humour and contemplated buying his beloved Pokhara mistress a gold hansuli, to frame her plump, pretty neck. Later, he was to wonder interminably about the possible conjunction of astral influences, the conspiracy of constellations, that had effected his radical cure. For the king’s digestion now flourished, the royal robes layered in purple velvet and satin rested gently on his reposeful abdomen; the queens, the prime minister, the ladies of the harem, all enjoyed the reprieve from his colic- induced cruelties.

The unexpected success of his unorthodox medicine prompted Jeewan to research further. He dreamt of formulating the perfect aphrodisiac. A Tibetan herbalist in Pokhara had told the Vaidya about the highly efficacious horny goat weed he had learnt of in China. The plant   grew in profusion around the Pokhara lake, and the royal physician had concocted a rasayan using the distilled weed and small quantities of the pink bell-shaped valerian flowers of Jatamansi. The king was offered the experimental potion, and it worked wonders. A certain royal lady-in-waiting whose husband was a confirmed catamite found herself   the subject of the monarch’s unexpected favour. He visited her bedchamber three nights consecutively and found his veerya, his royal libido, functioning as capably as that of a young man. The lady had a mole upon the inside of her left thigh, and this mole became the subject of his immediate and compulsive attention. The mole, he decided, in some leap of intuition or madness, held the key to his destiny as a monarch.

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Teamwork Arts hosts curtain raiser for Zee Jaipur Literature Fest at Delhi

The event at the Taj Mahal Hotel, New Delhi was packed with publishers, authors and supporters of the festival, media and the literati.

Co-directors Namita Gokhale and William Dalrymple shared their insights into the themes and authors participating at the annual carnival of the mind to be held from January 19th -23rd, 2017.

Namita Gokhale, writer, publisher and Co-director of the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival, said, “We live in times where the cycles of change are puzzling, often disruptive. Books are the answers to these puzzles, literature is the force that links and binds human stories, and contemplates the human situation. In an increasingly parochial and polarised world, literature helps us scale the walls. And translation is the tool that helps us access cultures and knowledge systems.

This year’s festival is more multi vocal than ever before, with about thirty languages represented there. Translation is a key focus and a variety of strands and themes including the constitution, the Magna Carta, Sanskrit, the movements from the margins to the centre, examine the ideals, the ideologies, the realpolitik, of our world, as well as the freedom of the dreaming imagination.”

William Dalrymple, writer and Co-director of the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival, said, “It’s been an extraordinary journey from 16 attendees ten years ago to a third a million today. On the way we have brought many of the world’s greatest writers to India and showcased Indian writing to the world. We have ignited a million minds to the wonders of literature. This year will be our most irresistible spread of literary genius yet. Roll on the 19th of January!”

The programme for the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival 2017 will touch upon a multitude of ideas and themes including a look at the nation, Freedom to Dream – India at 70 which explores India today in the context of its history as well as its future, Translations and World Literature, Women and Marginalised Voices, Sanskrit, and Colonialism and the Legacy of the Raj. Read more

Source: Everything Experiential 


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New Release: Thing to Leave Behind by Namita Gokhale

leave-behindThings to Leave Behind follows the intertwined story of spirited Tilottama Uprety, whose uncle is hanged during the ‘Mutiny’, her troubled daughter, Deoki, missionary Rosemary Boden and Deoki’s husband, Jayesh Jonas, into Boden’s utopian Eden Ashram where artist William Dempster seeks out new Indias. At its heart lies one singular painting: a portrait of love, longing and courage.

Set in the years 1840 to 1912, Things to Leave Behind chronicles the mixed legacy of the British Indian past and the emergence of a fragile modernity. The book is published by Penguin.

Illuminated with painstaking detail, told with characteristic narrative skill, this compelling historical novel—the final one in the Himalayan trilogy, after A Himalayan Love Story and The Book of Shadows—is Namita Gokhale’s most ambitious work yet.

About the Author

Namita Gokhale has authored thirteen books—seven works of fiction and six works of non-fiction. She is founder and co-director of the Jaipur Literature Festival, and the Bhutan literary festival, Mountain Echoes.