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JLF to go virtual amid COVID-19 pandemic

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The 14th edition of the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) will be held virtually next year because of the coronavirus pandemic. The JLF’s London and New York editions were also conducted in a virtual way this time.

The virtual festival will be organised over two weekends from February 19 to 21 and February 26 to 28. The annual festival which has become a major literary event of not only India but entire South-East Asia attracts a large number of crowds in Jaipur. But Jaipur will miss the event this time as oraganisers have turned it into a virtual event

Former South African Constitutional Court Justice and anti-Apartheid activist Albie Sachs, theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli, Sanskrit scholar Bibek Debroy, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor and lyricist Prasoon Joshi will be among the author-speakers participating in the virtual festival.

Multiple themes in JLF

The festival will explore themes including ‘Technology and AI’, ‘Politics and History’, ‘Environment and Climate Change’, ‘Mental Health’, ‘Business and Economics’, ‘Translations’, ‘Poetry and Music’, and ‘Food and Literature’.

“These disruptive times have enabled us to curate a uniquely diverse literary platform and to create what could be termed a living library. The magical spirit of the festival, with its joy, curiosity, and sense of wonder, will be live this coming February for all those who cherish books, ideas and dialogue,” said Namita Gokhale, writer, and co-director of the JLF in a statement.

The first list also includes Australian journalist John Zubrzycki, British lawyer Marina Wheeler, American political philosopher Michael Sandel, Moin Mir, author of “Surat: Fall of a Port, Rise of a Prince”; Navtej Sarna, author, columnist, and former diplomat and India’s Ambassador to the United States; Oliver Craske, author of the biography “Indian Sun: The Life and Music of Ravi Shankar”; Priya Atwal, a historian of the empire, monarchy and cultural politics in Britain and India and author of “Royals and Rebels: The Rise and Fall of the Sikh Empire”.

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They will be joined by historian Ramachandra Guha, poet and art critic Ranjit Hoskote; historian Shekhar Pathak; and Shylashri Shankar, senior fellow at the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi and author of “Turmeric Nation: A Passage Through India’s Tastes” among others.

“Despite pandemics and political upheavals around the world, the Jaipur Literature Festival continues to spread its wings and has transformed itself into one of the world’s most popular online spaces for profound discussions about books and writing. While this year’s JLF will be a quieter affair than usual, our commitment to literary excellence continues undimmed as we present one of our most extraordinary lists to date,” said William Dalrymple, writer, historian and co-director of JLF.

Augmented reality

Apart from the speaker sessions, the JLF will also recreate the original literary extravaganza with augmented reality and virtual venues with a bookstore and a bazaar featuring traditionally handcrafted goodies.

“The devastation that the pandemic caused caught the world unawares. Even as gated communities, cities and countries shut down their borders, we wanted to ensure the free flow of knowledge and information across countries and communities. JLF Brave New World was born out of this intention and grossed over 160 episodes and 4.8 million viewers.”

“As we look ahead to 2021, we look forward to hosting the Jaipur Literature Festival, bringing to our viewers the best thinkers from across the world and presenting varied points of views and themes,” Sanjoy K Roy, festival producer, said.

 

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