Jaipur literature fest to focus on Indian languages

The much-awaited Jan 21-25 event will also take a close look at works with strong social content from northeastern India, Kashmir, China and the Middle East, Namita Gokhale, writer and coordinator of the festival, told IANS.

"This time the festival will try to unravel new movements in vernacular Indian languages, especially Hindi, which is morphing to meet the needs of a growing population of young readers, through discussions and interactive sessions," she said.

The festival will feature more than a dozen Indian languages - Hindi, Urdu, Sanskrit, Tamil, Bangla, Asomiya (Assamese), Oriya, Gujarati, Malayalam, Kashmiri, Punjabi, Nepali, Bhojpuri and Rajasthani.

"The Jaipur Literature 2011 is more of a mind fest than a literature festival because the issues open to literary debate are stimulating though they are tagged to books and writers," Gokhale told IANS.

Gokhale manages the high-profile event with writer William Dalrymple and the Teamwork Production.

The festival is expected to host over 210 authors from all over the world, including two Nobel prize winners, J.M. Coetzee and Orhan Pamuk.

The glittering line-up boasts of writers like Nobel prize nominee Doctore Izzeldin Abuelaish from the Middle East, Jay McInerney, Ben MacIntyre, Richard Ford, Junot Diaz, Candace Bushnell (author of "Sex and the City"), Mohsin Hamid, Patrick French, Rory Stewart, Sheldon Pollock, Vikram Seth and several other best-selling writers in English and  vernacular Indian languages.

Gokhale said one of the significant trends that the festival has witnessed in the past six years was the growing influence of indigenous writing from India - both in vernacular languages and through translations.

"We are seeing more and more Indian writing at the festival. The boundaries between international writing and Indian writing are coming down. I think literary blogs are playing an important role between the mainstream literary festivals and world of printed books," she pointed out.

The festival will represent the increasing tribe of literary e-bloggers with a special session featuring popular literary blog writers.

The writer said: "Hindi blogs were full of life and vitality. We are planning two seminars on Hindi literary blogging - 'Nayi bhasa, nayi tewar' and 'aisi Hindi, kaisi Hindi'  - to analyse how Hindi has been changing, adjusting and adapting.

"The seminars are not about Hindi literature, but about Hindi as a language.
It is not possible for the print media or television to carry something about every book or about the rediscovery of old books. The Internet does it."

A special session on northeastern writing, children's workshop and interaction with writers of alternative sexuality are expected to enrich variety.

According to Gokhale, the five-day lit fest will be "among the biggest literary events for 2011 with over 400 accredited press persons from across the world with delegations from the UK and the US."

Gokhale also said that the festival has altered the publishing cycle.

"Sounds surprising - but most of the publishing houses in the country time their big releases to coincide with the Jaipur Literary Festival in January because of the large congregation of writers and intellectuals from across the globe in the country," she said.

The writer on her part is preparing for a session on "Now that I am 50" with Bulbul Sharma at the festival. She is also working on a novel "Priya", a modern comedy.

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