Jaipur literature festival sees spirited start

As they gathered for an informal dinner on Thursday night, they pledged to debate, discuss and tickle the intellect with serious literature, helping India find a place on the global map of fine print. 

The five-day festival, attended by 210 authors, kicked off on Friday with a session chaired by Indian Council for Cultural Relations president Karan Singh and a keynote address by Sheldon Pollock, a scholar of Sanskrit and Indian literary history from the Columbia University.

The line-up of writers includes two Nobel Laureates and seven Booker prize winners.  
The highlight of the literature festival this year, however, is a South Asian prize for literature sponsored by DSC for the first time.

According to festival co-director Namita Gokhale, the focus is on writing from the northeastern region and Hindi language. “The 2011 edition of the festival promises more joy and literary stimulation than ever before,” she said.

“Like every year, the festival is showcasing the strength and diversity of writing in Indian language. It includes sessions in Hindi, Urdu, Sanskrit, Tamil, Bangla, Assamiya, Odiya, Gujarati, Malayalam, Kashmiri, Punjabi, Nepali, Bhojpuri and Rajasthani. Debates and dialogues, poetry readings and music, what can be more intelligent a way to celebrate a new year,” Gokhale said.

Festival producer Sanjoy K Roy, managing director of Teamwork Productions, said: “We are delighted that the festival has grown to be one of the five biggest literature events in the world, the largest free literature festival and the largest festival in Asia attracting over 30,000 visitors.”

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