JAIPUR: The Jaipur Literature Festival, known as the “greatest literary show on Earth,” returned to the Rajasthan capital on Thursday for its 15th edition.
The festival, which has put the northern Indian city of Jaipur on the world map of literature events, was held virtually last year due to COVID-19 restrictions.
This year, it began online on March 5 with “A Life in Stories,” a session in which Abdulrazak Gurnah, Tanzanian-born laureate of the 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature, took attendees on a chronological tour of his life.
On Thursday, the festival moved to its on-ground venue at Hotel Clarks Amer in Jaipur, where it will run through March 14.
“It’s a pleasure to be back in the physical form and hosting the festival in the presence of the people,” Sanjoy K. Roy, the festival’s managing director, told Arab News. “We thought we would have to host the festival online again, but we are happy that we managed to find a conducive atmosphere to host the festival in the physical format, too. The festival this year is happening in the hybrid mode and people have the option to watch the sessions both online and offline.”
Addressing the audience during the inaugural session, festival co-director Namita Gokhale said: “Coming back again to the festival makes me emotional as I remember previous editions of the literary extravaganza featuring various writers and their stories.”
Author and historian William Dalrymple, who also serves as the festival’s co-director, said the pandemic had been an “existential threat” to artists, whose livelihoods were upended by lockdowns.
“But now we are back,” he said, “with four Nobel Prize winners!”
Besides Gurnah, the festival features Abhijit Banerjee, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 2019; Daniel Kahneman, who won the same prize in 2002; and Giorgio Parisi, who received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2021.
Visitors were welcomed in the morning with a performance of “Raag Miya Ki Todi” by Ujwal Nagar, a maestro of Hindustani classical music.
Thursday’s sessions covered the issues of climate change and geopolitics.
German Ambassador to India Walter J. Lindner, who took part in a discussion on the importance of world peace, told Arab News that he visited the event because of the panel.
“This is my first time at this literature festival and I was thinking whether I should come because of the ongoing Russian war against Ukraine,” he said. “I thought I should come because there was a panel on war and peace.”