JLF records highest number of visitors


World’s largest free literary festival Electric sessions with Dr APJ Abdul Kalam and Sir VS Naipaul rocked the festival on the fourth day. Besides, there was a 40 percent increase in students visiting the Festival, with average age of visitors being 21 years old. The eighth edition of the (ZEE) Jaipur Literature Festival, the world’s largest free literary festival, attracted 2,45,000 recorded footfalls over the five days – a record number for the Festival, which is completely free and open to all. The Festival has seen a doubling of international visitors from 50 difference countries, and a 40 percent increase in students attending the festival held at Diggi Palace. This year the Festival welcomed just over 300 authors (up from 240 in 2014), and 140 musicians. They participated in 209 sessions across 10 venues, including two new locations Amer Fort and Hawa Mahal. The Festival furthered its mission of making literature accessible to all by taking authors to schools in Jaipur, with 50 sessions taking place over two weeks in partnership with Pratham Books.

Notable session of the Festival included two packed sessions each for Nobel laureate Sir VS Naipaul and former president of India, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. The two speakers drew the biggest audience at the Rajnigandha Front Lawn with 5,000 excited book-lovers per event.

Other highlights over the five days included Man Booker Prize winner Eleanor Catton, renowned travel writer Paul Theroux, legends of the silver screen Waheeda Rehman, Naseeruddin Shah and Shabana Azmi as well as leading novelists Sarah Waters, Kamila Shamsie, Amit Chaudhuri and Eimear McBride. This year the Festival awarded three prizes, including the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, which was won by Jhumpa Lahiri, the Ojas Art Award which was presented to Bhajju Shyam and Venkat Raman Singh Shyam, as well as the Khushwant Singh Memorial Prize for Poetry which was awarded to poet Arundhathi Subramaniam for her work When God is a Traveller. The festival once again brought together a plurality of speakers from across the political, social, religious, artistic, and national divide, to create a cultural forum for discussion; unrivalled in South Asia today. The festival also championed freedom of creative expression with daily drawings from DNA newspaper’s chief cartoonist, Manjul – prompting discussion and debate over the rights and responsibility of writers and artists in the current climate.

Sanjoy Roy, managing director of Teamwork Arts, producer of the festival, said, “This year’s festival has been a celebration of the freedom of creative expression. We have seen a record footfall across the five days and are thankful to all our partners who have made the 2015 ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival such a success.”

Offshore Festivals…

Far from being the end of the Festival in 2015 – there is set to be two further editions of JLF across the world at the Southbank Centre in London this May, and then a third JLF festival in Boulder, Colorado, US in the autumn. The international outposts of the JLF festivals will be produced by Teamwork Arts, in addition to the 21 other festivals they produce in 11 different countries each year.

Next edition…

Next year, the JLF would be scheduled from January 21-25, 2016. Namita Gokhale, author and co-director of the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival said, “Another year is over and the next one just begun. My head is already teaming with ideas, themes, and concepts for next year. The year 2016 will be our best yet!”

While, William Dalrymple, author and co-director of the (ZEE) Jaipur Literature Festival, said, “This year has been a phenomenal year. We already have Margaret Atwood, Kazuo Ishiguro, Ian McEwan, Noam Chomsky, AL Kennedy and Thomas Piketty confirmed for next year – so book your travel and make your plans now for 2016!”
Triumphant 2nd year for the Jaipur BookMark

Distinct challenges constrain the publishing industry in India and South Asia. These were actively deliberated this week at the Jaipur BookMark on January 21-22 at Hotel Narain Niwas, Jaipur.

The event is a B2B platform for the publishing industry, which runs in parallel to the (ZEE) Jaipur Literature Festival. The event was inaugurated by author and co-director of the (ZEE) Jaipur Literature Festival Namita Gokhale; NORLA, senior advisor, Oliver Møystad and Naresh Khanna. The forum had increased participation from publishers, retailers, distributors, authors and editors, following its debut last year.

India’s publishing industry is sizeable – with an estimated current value of $20 billion, and a legacy of over two hundred years. This fact coexists with the irony that publishing is still perceived as a cottage enterprise and classified outside of the industry status in India. At the BookMark, many publishers discussed why they continue to remain outside of the credit support of the banking industry, despite India’s renewed sense of optimism and urgency in supporting business.

Other sessions over the two days underscored the dynamics of technological changes, debated the need for a national reading policy, explored the meaning and context of translation and celebrate South-South between publishers and writers in the global south.

Many insights emerged from BookMark including that eBook sales have come down by as much as one-fifth in India and the US, and the reaffirmation that ‘content is king’ when it comes to finding new ways of monetising traditional forms of storytelling across digital boundaries. There was widespread consensus that there are enough readers and consequently markets for a variety of readerships across India, allowing for experimentation with delivery platform, genre, multi-media and language.

The second day of the BookMark also saw the announcement on a new award for the publishing industry, the Oxford Book Store Prize for Best Book Cover, which will recognise and celebrate the extraordinary work of illustrators, designers and publishers throughout India. The first winner will be announced at the next Jaipur BookMark to take place next January 2016.

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