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The iconic Jaipur Literature Festival is all set to run from 19th – 23rd January, 2023 at Hotel Clarks Amer, Jaipur. This year, at its 16th edition, the Festival will showcase a range of women writers and their exemplary works.
Celebrating women writers, there is a session that will discuss how one captures the life of a woman in a piece of writing. This panel of speakers will feature authors Emily Perkins, Eugenia Kuznetsova, Ana Filomena Amaral and Tadhg Mac Dhonnagáin in conversation with writer Saskya Jain. At the session, this panel will discuss the socio-cultural and political implications of writing with a feminine gaze.
Booker Prize winner Bernardine Evaristo’s memoir, Manifesto: On Never Giving Up, is an inspirational account of her life and career as she rebelled against the mainstream and fought over several decades to bring her creative work into the world. At the Festival, Evaristo will be in conversation with journalist and writer, Nandini Nair where she will present her reimagined memoir and an essential manual for creativity, activism, and reinvention. At another session, the International Booker Prize winner Geetanjali Shree along with translator Daisy Rockwell will be in conversation with Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar winner Tanuj Solanki. This session in Hindi will focus on the original novel– its experimental storytelling, its innovative digressions, and its viewpoint on the Partition through an octogenarian protagonist.
Philanthropist and writer Sudha Murty is an inspirational figure who has brought culturally oriented children’s literature to the centre stage of discussion. During a session, Murty will be in conversation with former Editor-in-Chief of Penguin Random House India, Meru Gokhale, where she will present a pragmatic worldview that is nevertheless based on compassion and empathy. At another literary session, writer, publisher and Festival Co-Director Namita Gokhale will be in conversation with journalist Mandira Nayar for an insightful discussion on Gokhale’s life which has been woven around books — her own and those written by others.
Taking the conversations forward, a session will showcase author Alka Saraogi, and recipient of the Sahitya Akademi award for Tokri men Digant, Anamika. In conversation with renowned journalist Nishtha Gautam, the two luminaries from Hindi Literature will discuss the trajectory of their creative life and read from their recent works.
One of India’s leading pop icons and playback singers, Usha Uthup has enthralled listeners for generations. In his evocative Hindi biography, The Queen of Indian Pop: The Authorised Biography of Usha Uthup, translated into English by his daughter, Srishti Jha, Vikas Kumar Jha captures Uthup’s colourful and inspiring career. From Uthup’s childhood days in Mumbai to her first gigs and meteoric rise to stardom, through strife, celebration and intimate musings, this engrossing biography is a testament to the evergreen legacy of the legendary songstress. In conversation with author Sathya Saran, Uthup and Jha will discuss music, memories, milestones, and the book that captures them all.
A session titled ‘Lata ji – A Life In Music’ will feature celebrated poet, music and cinema scholar Yatindra Mishra in conversation with translator and writer Anu Singh Choudhary. Delving into little-known details of the late Lata Mangeshkar’s long and illustrious journey as a vocalist and playback singer, Mishra creates a fascinating portrait of a legend with a singular passion for excellence in music, in his book, originally published in Hindi as Lata: Sur Gatha, and translated into English by Ira Pande.
The Festival will also feature author and celebrated actress Deepti Naval who will be seen in conversation with philanthropist and entrepreneur Surina Narula for Naval’s recent work A Country Called Childhood. The memoir has a charming honesty and is visually rich, as one may expect from a famous actor known for her roles in Chashme Buddoor and Angoor, among others.
At a session, award-winning author Kishwar Desai will be in conversation with bureaucrat and IRS officer Nirupama Kotru, where they will discuss Desai’s book The Longest Kiss: The Life and Times of Devika Rani. The session will chart the fascinating life and career of India’s first international superstar, Devika Rani. At another session, celebrated writer and academic Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni will be in conversation with writer and oral historian Aanchal Malhotra for her novel, Independence, which focuses on a moving tale of three sisters and their individual yet intertwined experience of the Partition of 1947. Moving fluidly across the roots of love, loss, family and legacy, Divakaruni will present this heartwrenching family saga set against the backdrop of national upheaval.
A Jaipur BookMark session at the Festival, in collaboration with the Women Translating Women initiative of the Ashoka Centre for Translation, will host a panel discussion with feminist writer, translator and co-founder of Zubaan, Urvashi Butalia, and multilingual scholar, translator and Professor of English at Ashoka University, Rita Kothari, in conversation with publisher and translation consultant Neeta Gupta.
A session titled ‘Women and Work’ will feature authors Shaili Chopra, Minnie Vaid and former IFS officer and Ambassador Lakshmi Puri in conversation with the UN Women Country Representative Susan Ferguson. This panel of women from diverse backgrounds will discuss the causes and consequences of the roadblocks that have come up in the way of a working woman’s working life in the past, present and future. Art historian and curator Katy Hessel is pioneering a corrective to dismantle the long reign of men in the art scene. The Story of Art Without Men, in conjunction with her blog titled ‘The Great Women Artists’, revives the legacy of women artists from the 1500s to the 21st century encapsulating focal points in art history from dadaism to civil rights and antiracism. In conversation with art historian Xavier Bray, Hessel will discuss the historical documentation of art and her attempts at dismantling patriarchy within the art world.
Internationally bestselling historian Katie Hickman brings together extraordinary stories of women who participated in the greatest mass migration in American history in her latest book Brave Hearted: The Women of the American West. During a session at the Festival, Hickman will be in conversation with author Bee Rowlatt, where she will discuss the women of the American West and their reservoir of courage and resilience in the face of life-threatening change.
Author of Spy Princess: The Story of Noor Inayat Khan, Shrabani Basu and author of Lonely Courage, Rick Stroud, will be seen at a session discussing the eventful life of Noor Inaayat Khan, a descendant of Tipu Sultan, who was the only Asian secret agent in Europe in World War II, and the first woman wireless operator to be flown into occupied France during the War.
At the Festival, a session will feature award-winning journalist and author Nilanjana Bhowmick and Deputy Country Representative, UN Women India, Kanta Singh for a discussion on Bhowmick’s recent book Lies Our Mothers Told Us: The Indian Woman’s Burden. The book focuses on a story of countless Indian women who have fought for and won equal rights in multiple areas since the 19th century. On paper, it would appear that the circumstances and situations for a woman of the 21st century have vastly improved. However, in reality, the demands of capitalism and the persistence of patriarchy have meant that they continue to lead lives that are hard and unequal.