M A I N   N E W S

Voices merge to seek answers for inherent human dilemmas
Vandana Shukla/TNS

Jaipur, January 24
If reading and writing of literature promotes, in an intangible way, an equitable world, an effort seemed to be constantly being made at Jaipur literature festival. Diverse voices merge to seek answers for inherent human dilemmas. On the opening day, there were sessions that addressed issues like ‘women, outcasts, peasants and rebels’ in literature ‘Kinships of faith: Finding a middle way’ and deliberations on the global appeal of Shakespeare, with translators of the genius from such diverse cultures as Turkey, Britain and India, sharing their own interpretations of the celebrated bard.

Though, there was another undercurrent felt by most attendees of the festival. Once a literature festival has tasted the buzz and excitement of being in the centre of a controversy, it cannot create the same buzz and excitement every year. People complained that it’s not as ‘exciting’ as it was last year. Though, one could see the usual crowds thronging to Diggi Palace, the venue for DSCJLF-2013.

The day began with the keynote address delivered by veteran Bengali author and activist Mahshweta Devi, several aspects of her writing and personal journey were touched upon by her. Laced with references to the rich world of ideas, she imbibed from the tribal and rural cultures that formed the subject of her work, she shared her thoughts on suppressed middle-class sexuality, and shared her own take on it. “I don’t abide by any rules formed by society,” said the octogenarian author in her frail shaky voice. The Governor of Rajasthan, Margaret Alva, introduced the writer by quoting Tagore.

In a no-holds-barred session, Zoe Heller, author of ‘Notes on Scandal’ in conversation with Monisha Rajesh talked about the characters of her works from “averagely unhappy dysfunctional families” and why she loves to create “loathsome” characters. The nasty characters are the most complicated ones, less heroic with their grey areas, “adultery, death and religion” she said, hold perennial appeal for literature.

If sessions on the origins of yoga by global scholars like David White, Sir James Mallinson and Birad Rajaram Yajnik, who talked about the authentic sources of Yoga Sutra to rock yoga, and evolution and facets of this old science and a talk by Dalai Lama, attended by about 3.000 people, were indicators of a search for a better world beyond the written word. What can be understood by the mystery of the written word was explored at length by writers like Nicholas Hogg, Richard Beard and Yiyun Li when they discussed “The art of the short story” or “The novel of the future” deliberated by Howard Jacobson, Nadeem Aslam Linda Grant, Lawrence Norfolk and Zoe Heller.

The author of “Cutting For Stone” with such quotable quotes like “Wasn’t that the definition of home? Not where you are from, but where you are wanted” and “You live it forward, but understand it backward,” Abraham Verghese regaled the audience with his quick wit in a conversation with Rick Simonson.

Booker finalists

  • The Man Booker International Prize 2013 finalists' shortlist was announced
  • UR Anathamurthy from India and Intizar Husain made it to the 10 shortlisted authors for Man Booker International Prize
  • Sharmila Tagore, Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar added to the glamour quotient
  • Mohammad Hanif, Pakistani author was not there to attend his session





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