Free speech and the future of books make it to the JLF podiums.
The presence of children on the last two days of the DSC Jaipur Literature Festival 2013 illustrated something that Musharraf Ali Farooqi — who write the recent translated, internationally acclaimed Dastaan-e-Amir Hamza (The Adventures of Amir Hamza) — had mentioned during his session on January 27. “I have no worries about the dangers of books going out of fashion, as I’ve seen children are still fascinated by books and reading them. Maybe it’s the adult readers we should worry about,” he said. The author took seven years to translate 1,000 pages of stories. If Farooqi spoke about Akbar’s dyslexia and the sexuality present in the tales of Amir Hamza, American author Madeline Miller, author of the racy historical novel Song of Achilles spoke about the post-traumatic stress disorder faced by Greek soldiers returning from the Trojan War. Howard Jacobson, the Man Booker Prize-winning author of The Finkler Question, talked about the actions of Israel in Jerusalem and the perceptions of Jews by the international media. He said that people seem to have this misconception that the Jews got their just desert 50-odd years ago for their current handling of the Palestine crisis. They speak of the Holocaust, as if it was a lesson in humanity for the Jews. His closing remarks were a fitting way to describe the perils that freedom of expression faces today, when he said that we are living in a world which is extremely quick to take offence.
Aside from the festival
New ChaPter: 2014
Even before the 2013 edition of Jaipur Literature Festival has come to a close, there is curiosity about what 2014 has in store. The organisers are not too keen to keep things under wraps either. According to the official announcement, JLF 2014 will be held from January 16 to 20 (at Diggi Palace, of course). The list of international speakers includes American actor-author-film director Stephen Fry, British travel writer Jason Elliot, Man Booker Prize-winning Irish novelist, dramatist and screenwriter Roddy Doyle, English novelist David Mitchell, Swiss-born/British writer and philosopher Alain de Botton and historian Linda Colley. Nobel laureate Amartya Sen will also be there.
The Missing Speakers
While Ashis Nandy had to beat a hasty retreat owing to the controversy, other star speakers who could not make it included Indian-born British artist Anish Kapoor, whose India appearance this time was much sought-after. Others included