Jaipur: The Beginning

We’re excited to introduce our official blog. This is a space where we will tell you not only about the books we launch and the events we organize, but also engage you in debates about current concerns in the world of literature.

It’s easy as a publishing group, to take individual decisions, but our attempt has always been to involve our readers in the process of writing, production and marketing. We want to know your ideas, your views, your experiences, because only then can we produce books that enthuse you. Our blog is a step  in this direction.

We wondered how best to begin this blog, what the introductory post could be, and the answer seemed  obvious. As each of us recovers from the literary festival in Jaipur,  we at Tranquebar also feel the need to celebrate the occasion-that-was. Four of our authors,  Katherine Russell Rich, Shehryar Fazli, Jai Arjun Singh and Rahul Pandita were invited and their sessions came to be greatly appreciated.

On day one, Katherine Russell Rich participated in ‘Emperor of Maladies’, alongside Kavery Nambisan and Siddhartha Mukherjee. Katherine spoke of her ongoing battle with cancer, with the courage,  hope and  candour we  see displayed  in her memoir, The Red Devil:   To Hell With Cancer and Back. Five days later, she participated in ‘Dreaming in Sanskrit’, with Lee Siegel and Priya Sarukkai Chabria, where she nostalgically described the year she spent learning Hindi in Udaipur, then writing of it in Dreaming in Hindi.  You can see the video of the discussion here:

D5MT 04-(107) from Dreamcast India on Vimeo.

On day two, Shehryar Fazli, whose critically acclaimed and politically astute novel, Invitation was recently released, analyzed the security along the borders of South-East Asian countries, in the session, ‘Fractious Borders: The Ups and Downs of Himalayan Relationships. ‘ With Ahmad Rashid, Sujeev Shakya, Narayan Wagle and Nirupama Rao, Shehryar highlighted how seminal security concerns are today, across countries and shadow-lines. Watch the video here:

D2MT_05-(43) from Dreamcast India on Vimeo.

Finally, on day four, Jai Arjun Singh, along with Anjum Hasan, Kamila Shamsie, Namita Gokhale and Jaishree Misra, participated in a session that revolved around our soon-to-be-released title, ‘The Popcorn Essayists: What Movies Do to Writers’. Excerpts were read by the contributors to this film-essay anthology, edited by Jai Arjun, followed by a light discussion. Don’t miss the video:

D4MT 01-(71) from Dreamcast India on Vimeo.

In the midst of all the activity and cheer though, there have been raging debates, from whether the Jaipur Literature Festival favours the West over the subcontinent, to whether one needs to look into the credentials of the sponsors. But perhaps, the biggest concern is this: does the Jaipur Literature Festival risk becoming so clangorous that its essential focus, literature, gets lost in the noise?

Is a festival that began modestly to acknowledge new and old writing today no more than a sycophantic tribute to large names?

Has our favourite literary festival become so big that it may die?

Gaurav Jain, of Tehelka has written a fascinating piece on the subject here.  But we’d love to have your views on the issue.

Did you enjoy the Jaipur Literature Festival? Do you feel it’s losing its focus with every passing year, or do you think it has more to offer than ever?  What would you modify about it, if you had the option?

Also, do let us know if you attended the sessions we have listed, and tell us what you thought, what you liked, what you would have changed.

Your views matter to us, and we hope to hear from you. On our part, we can promise you weekly updates and more!

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