Jaipur Lit Fest 2020 unveils its list of speakers

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New Delhi, Dec 9 (IANS) The 13th edition of what is arguably one of the biggest literary events in the world will take place between January 23 and 27, 2020, in Jaipur. Returning to its customary home, the Diggi Palace Hotel, the line-up is a veritable power-house of speakers.
With over 250 speakers, which include the likes of Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee, Christina Lamb, Dexter Filkins, Forrest Gander, Howard Jacobson, Javed Akhtar, Paul Muldoon, Prasoon Joshi, Shashi Tharoor and Stephen Greenblatt, there’s a lot to look forward to.
Like every edition, this year to the festival will reflect diversity in books, themes, subjects and ideas representing literature and thoughts intrinsic to both India and the world, especially issues like climate change.
Gracing the occasion, Mohammed Khater Al-Khater, Qatar’s Ambassador to India, addressed the audience and shared his pleasure on the upcoming, first ever edition of JLF Doha, jointly organized by Teamwork Arts and Qatar National Library.
Speaking exclusively to IANS before the event, author and festival director William Dalrymple talked about what he’s looking forward to most at the event. Excerpts:
“I am most excited about the non-fiction segment this year. To give you an idea of the incredible non-fiction line up we have, my biggest excitement is a name who is not huge here but probably is the most successful non-fiction writer in the US, Stephen Greenblatt.
“He’s a professor at Harvard and the greatest Shakespearean of his generation and a Pulitzer Winner. His book ‘The Swerve’ on how the Renaissance began would be lucky to get any accolades, never mind the best seller list. He sat at number one on the New York Times bestseller list for eight months. He’s a model really on how nonfiction has moved from being something which is academic and unreachable to making it something that is really overtaking fiction now. He writes beautifully and is my one top picks. I’ve been trying to get him here for eight years, and we finally got him,” Dalrymple said.
The Festival Director further added, “Frank Dikotter is another extraordinary guy, he’s an expert on China and written a wider book on dictators, ‘How to Be a Dictator: The Cult of Personality in the Twentieth Century’, which, as the far right takes more and more control over the world, is an interesting read.
“We also have a huge focus on climate change, and have probably the two most important writers on that subject at the moment with us — David Wallace-Wells and James Thornton along with his partner Martin Goodman. They’ve set up Client Earth which sues polluters on behalf of the earth.
“We’ve also got most of the major prize winners this year. But the one I’m most excited about is Hallie Rubenhold, who wrote this extraordinary book, ‘The Five’, inverting the Jack the Ripper narrative and looking at it from the victims’ perspective who were all women of course.
“She has destroyed the myth that they were all prostitutes, they were working woman and it was the male gaze that allowed them to be dismissed as prostitutes. This is the first book that looks at the victims’ point of view and won the leading non-fiction prize this year.
“We’ve also got Bettany Hughes on Istanbul… She’s one of the great non-fiction writers of our time. We’ve also got some of the world’s greatest journalists on board, the list is endless and I can go on and on. We also have a very strong fiction line-up, so there’s an incredible lot to look forward to,” Dalrymple said.

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