Jaipur’s grand feast of ideas returns to London

After the success of the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival in India this January, producers Teamwork Arts present the sixth edition of ZEE JLF at The British Library as it returns to the UK on Friday 14 – Sunday 16 June 2019. This annual celebration of books, creativity, dialogue and diversity brings South Asia’s unique multilingual literary heritage to life in the heart of London.

After kicking off in the British capital, the grand feast of ideas will then travel for the first time to Belfast, as its second stop in the UK. This new festival takes place on Friday 21 – Sunday 23 June 2019, exploring themes that bind India and Northern Ireland such as border and partition, which have deeply affected both nations, the concepts of identity and migration and celebrating a joint love of books, creativity, music and of sharing each other’s stories.

This year’s London edition brings together over 60 speakers from a range of disciplines, genres and cultures, including Tristram Hunt, director of the V&A and former Labour MP, Nobel Laureate Venki Ramakrishnan, acclaimed travel writer Pico Iyer, award-winning author and journalist Christopher de Bellaigue and acclaimed Bollywood actor Manisha Koirala whose latest memoir recounts her battle with cancer.

The ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival in India is a global literary phenomenon, having hosted more than 2000 speakers and welcomed over a million book lovers from across the globe over the past decade. In London, ZEE JLF at The British Library brings the same universal, democratic and inclusive core values of the Festival to the UK.

Namita Gokhale, Festival co-Director and author of the new book Finding Radha, said: “As ZEE JLF at The British Library returns to London for its sixth edition, we look forward to the creative learnings and sharing what we have encountered in our treasured collaboration with the British Library. We examine books and ideas and the crucial intersectionalities of our changing times, the politics of culture, the joys of music and the consolations of poetry and philosophy in a series of mind stretching sessions, panels and re-imaginings.”

William Dalrymple, Festival co-Director and author of the new book The Anarchy, said: “In just over a decade, the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival has grown from 14 lost tourists to third of a million people and it’s now the biggest festival of literature in the world. With our strongest London line-up yet, we can’t wait to bring its energy and colour to the British Library: our Jaipur-on-Thames.”

Sanjoy K. Roy, Managing Director, Teamwork Arts, Producers of the Festival, said: “We’re back for our sixth edition in London with a colourful bandwagon of books, ideas and dialogue that capture our imaginations and explore the dynamic and challenging times we live in. ZEE JLF at The British Library will look at history as well as current affairs, explore scientific works and the creative worlds of cinema, literature and poetry. This year we’ve also partnered with the British Museum for an evening of conversations and are headed for the first time to Belfast for our second outing in the UK.”

In London this year, explorations of emblematic historical figures range from Bashabi Fraser’s new book about Bengali Renaissance man Rabindranath Tagore to Deepa Agarwal’s portrait of Ra’ana Liaquat Ali Khan, the pioneering first lady of Pakistani in the mid-20th century.

Key historical landmarks are also honoured at this year’s Festival. A century since the horrific Jallianwala Bagh massacre, Indian diplomat Navdeep Suri will speak about his new translation of his grandfather Nanak Singh’s Khooni Vaisakhi, an epic Punjabi poem with a scathing critique of the British Raj and was banned soon after its publication in May 1920.

Other historical subjects covered at the Festival include India’s relationship with the British Empire through Tristram Hunt’s exploration of the colonies’ role in the creation of the urban world and Santanu Das’ research into the writings, images and songs of colonial India during the First World War. Also on the theme of Empire, Queen Victoria is a figure examined by writers such as Shrabani Basu and Miles Taylor.

With India’s Me Too movement continuing to increase its reach and momentum, and the country’s LGBTQ community celebrating the recent repealing of Section 377, this year’s edition features compelling conversations on gender and sexuality. Madhavi Menon’s Infinite Variety: A History of Desire in India uses queer theory to uncover tremendous new insights into the diversity of sexual identity thoughout Indian history. Meanwhile, Christina Lamb’s Our Bodies Their Battlefields explores war through the lives of women and Helena Kennedy’s Eve Was Shamed looks at how the British justice system is failing women.

Other topical issues are also discussed this year, such as by James Crabtree, author of The Billionaire Raj, which explores the rise of India’s new billionaire class amidst radical inequality. Meanwhile, British-French journalist Ben Judah, author of This is London, discusses the complex social make-up of the British capital with its former mayor Ken Livingstone.

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