Nobel laureate ‘overwhelmed’ at public event to celebrate A House for Mr Biswas: The Guardian

NaipaulWill he or won’t he? The question that has hung over the lead-up up to the eighth Jaipur literature festival was answered on its opening day when a frail VS Naipaul was wheeled on to the open air stage for his first public reunion in 19 years with Paul Theroux.

Festival directors William Dalrymple and Namita Gokhale set the scene by programming a celebration of Naipaul’s name-making 1961 novel, A House for Mr Biswas. It was, said Theroux, “the foundation of Naipaul’s genius” – a novel without precedent, about a little man from Trinidad with big dreams. He recalled discovering it in 1966. “It’s one of the finest books I’ve ever read. I used to go home every night and read five to 10 pages.” 

NaipaulThe programme for the upcoming ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) 2015—slated to be held between January 21 and 25—is now live on the festival’s website. Visitors can look forward to sessions such as ‘Selfie: The Art of the Memoir’ with Elizabeth Gilbert, ‘The Conflict of Dharma in the Mahabharata’ with Amish Tripathi and Bibek Debroy, as well as a historic session that will see titans of literature Paul Theroux and VS Naipaul appear together on stage.

Organizers of the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival have unveiled the final lineup of speakers at the 2015 festival, which is scheduled take place in Jaipur from Jan. 21 to 25.

On deck for South Asia’s best-known literary jamboree: Nobel laureate V.S. Naipaul, author of “A House for Mr. Biswas” and other novels; travel writers Paul Theroux and Elizabeth Gilbert, the latter of “Eat Pray Love” fame; British screenwriter and novelist Hanif Kureishi; Indian author Chetan Bhagat; Vijay Seshadri, winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for poetry; Man Booker Prize winner Eleanor Catton; statistician and risk scholar Nicholas Nassim Taleb; Columbia University economist Arvind Panagariya; and more than 200 others.

Both V S Naipaul and Paul Theroux, who are not appearing in this year’s Ubud Festival in Bali, will appear in Jaipur Lit Fest in India and Singapore Writers Festival respectively

NaipaulFor this year’s festival from October 1-5, festival director Janet DeNeefe invited the American writer Paul Theroux, who had expressed interest after eating at her Ubud restaurant Indus. When she rejected his request for a fee for which, she says, “I could have got David Attenborough”, Theroux agreed instead to appear at the Singapore Writers Festival in November.
DeNeefe then invited V.S. Naipaul, the distinguished but difficult 82-year-old Trinidad-born British writer, who recently ended a long feud with Theroux. To her amazement the Wylie Agency accepted, with the promise of first- and business-class travel and a luxurious villa.

This year’s Singapore Writers Festival (SWF), Singapore’s most anticipated literary event, is back with an exciting line-up of authors and programmes centred around the theme ‘The Prospect of Beauty’. The theme signifies the festival’s focus to celebrate beauty in writing, literature and the world around us.

Singapore Writers Festival Director, Paul Tan
Singapore Writers Festival Director, Paul Tan

In its 17th edition, this year’s Festival boasts some of the world’s literary greats such as Paul Theroux, American travel writer and novelist; leading figure in the feminist movement, social critic and political activist Naomi Wolf; Raymond E. Feist, science fiction and fantasy author; Karen Joy Fowler, best-selling writer and most recently long-listed for the Man Booker Prize; Irish poet Paul Muldoon, winner of the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry; three-time US Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky; Jonathan Lethem, best known for his genre-bending fiction; Barry Lopez, often regarded as the most important living writer on nature and human culture; William T. Vollmann, American journalist, novelist and war correspondent; and prolific women’s fiction author Adele Parks.

Held from 31 October to 9 November, the Festival features a riveting line-up of nearly 200 Singapore and international writers participating in over 250 events that comprise panel discussions, lectures, poetry readings, literary meals and more.

AP Writers is organizing a literary walk in Singapore on 19 July.

“Follow in the footsteps of Joseph Conrad as we explore the Singapore of days-gone-by that inspired stories and novels such as The End of the Tether and Lord Jim. Along the way we view locations described in the writings of Noel Coward, Somerset Maugham, Paul Theroux and many local Singaporean writers. Places visited include Empress Place, Cavenagh Bridge, Conrad’s Memorial, the Esplanade and the Padang, then we return to The Arts House. Old photographs will help recall the scenes described in novels, short stories and poems. The pace of this tour is a slow meander.

WeneednewnamesPaul Theroux, in his disturbing recent Africa-based novel,The Lower River, portrayed gangs of feral children, American aid wor­kers insulated from their supposed beneficiaries by walls of sun-glasses and air-conditioning, and a dystopian society collapsing under the combined weight of failed government and the aids virus. If Theroux’s is an outside-in view of Africa, Zimbabwe-born NoViolet Bulawayo presents an alternative, inside-out view.