BookChums at Jaipur Literature Festival 2012

Press release   •   Jan 31, 2012 18:59 IST

The five-day literary event of the year, the Jaipur Literature Festival 2012 was a mix of intellect, witty one-liners and saw writers from various parts of India and the world. It was as if universes of writers from every possible field were present at Diggi Palace.
BookChums representatives interacted with various authors, poets and other luminaries of the literary world. BookChums was omnipresent at the book signing area and also at the various sessions that were held during the period of the five days. 
There were poetry readings, intense discussions and the looming image of one particular absentee – a certain Salman Rushdie. "No one has a right to ban literature. Just as a writer has a right to write, the reader has a right to read, "Purushottam Agarwal made his point at the inauguration.
The Oprah Winfrey session and the final day session on the Salman Rushdie issue were the main standouts for us. There was so much to imbibe, that BookChums finds itself rich and content as an audience at the end of the fest. 
The inaugural session started with poetry readings from translations of Kabir and Tukaram. There was a session on little magazines, whose editors talked about casting aside the commercial aspect in order to ensure more freedom of expression in the magazines. Ashok Chakradhar’s humorous and satirical Hindi poetry dazzled audiences and so did Gulzar’s rendition of his latest poems.
Pakistani writer Mohammed Hanif was an audience favourite with his witty one-liners, through all the five days, at various sessions. So was Girish Karnad, as he read some arresting passages from his autobiography. Michael Ondaatje read from his latest book and spoke on the importance of keeping the scene incomplete after a sentence.      
BookChums was also witness to the defiance of four authors – Jeet Thayil, Hari Kunzru, Ruchir Joshi and Amitava Kumar, who were asked to leave the festival after they read extracts from Salman Rushdie’s banned book, “The Satanic Verses.” Javed Akhtar and Tarun Tejpal were among those who spoke for Rushdie on the concluding day.
Hindi literature was well represented with the likes of Ashok Vajpeyi, Ramkumar Singh, Yatindra Mishra & Chandrakanta, who regaled the audiences with their readings. Malayalam poet K. Satchidanandan, Tamil writers Charu Nivedita and Bama Faustina, Cheran , were among those who represented  southern literature.
Best-selling authors like Chetan Bhagat and Amish Tripathi attracted huge crowds. Writers like Kunal Basu, Rahul Bhattacharya, Lionel Shriver, Romesh Gunesekara added to the mix. So did social activists and conservationists like Valmik Thapar, Anuradha Roy and Aruna Roy.
If at one session there were readings of Mirabai, the other one had Richard Dawkins comparing religion to a computer virus. The gay writing community was represented by Hoshang Merchant and R Raja Rao.
We applaud the five different venues, from the spacious Front Lawns, the cosy cane chair adorned Baithak, the old-world chandeliers and charm of the Durbar Hall, the wedding-like feel of the Mughal Tent and finally the moderate spaced seating of the Samvad area.  
BookChums looks forward to the next edition of the festival, hoping for many more experiences of the literary kind.