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A Roundup Of The Best Sessions From The Jaipur Literature Fest 2020

The 13th edition of the Jaipur Literature Festival came to an end, but not before leaving us with some engaging sessions and conversations. From poetry and literature to culture, there was much discussed by some of the topmost experts in their respective fields. Here's taking a look at the sessions that proved to be distinct. 

The Cartiers: The Untold Story Of The Family Behind The Jewelry Empire

Anecdotes and history from the house of Cartier were narrated by Francesca Cartier Brickell, along with a reading from her book. The granddaughter of the late Jean-Jacques Cartier, who was the last family member to manage the French luxury brand, Francesca’s firsthand insights into the family business made for a memorable experience.

The Lives Of Women

Bettany Hughes, Jung Chang, Benjamin Moser, Lindsey Hilsum, and Hallie Rubenhold came together to talk about their recent works and the representation of women in literature in a conversation with presenter and author Anita Anand, and the result was an informed yet witty discussion. Rubenhold and Hilsum talked about the subjects of their works, the former’s being the five women killed by Jack the Ripper and for the latter, her friend and war correspondent Marie Colvin; Moser explored the relevance of Susan Sontag as examined in Sontag: Her Life and Work and Jung Chang elaborated on the difficulties of being a woman writer in China, all of it tied together with excerpts and incidents. 

Partition Voices

Exploring the mass exodus that was the partition, Kavita Puri and Sam Dalrymple came together for a conversation with author and historian Aanchal Malhotra. Partition Voices, which also happens to be the title of a recent book authored by Puri, highlighted the plight of the millions of people who migrated, never to go back to their homes again, whilst also exploring the necessity of projects that brought the event to the forefront of history. 

Faiz & Firaq: The Aesthetics And Politics Of Poetry

Poetry, performance, and conversation about the two great poets of all times, Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Raghupati Sahay who wrote under the pen name Firaq Gorakhpuri, gave way to a full house. Discussion about the two and their prolific works ensued between Saif Mahmood and Nishtha Gautam with renditions by Chinmayi Tripathi and Joel, but it was a chorus of Faiz’s exemplary poem—‘Hum Dekhenge’— written in 1979 as a form of protest against the erstwhile oppressive regime, that ended the session with the viewers joining in.

The Anarchy

Introduced by Manu S. Pillai, William Dalrymple's session focussed on a presentation of his book The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company. Published in 2019, the account details the ascent of the corporation and what transpired in India as a result, but with Dalrymple himself narrating the important historical events, the session was one to watch. 

 

Tyrant: Shakespeare On Politics

What happens when two authorities on the Bard come together? The result was what ensued in a conversation between Stephen Greenblatt, the Shakespearean literary expert, historian, and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for general non-fiction in 2012 and Vishal Bhardwaj, the filmmaker who depicted the trilogy of Macbeth, Othello, and Hamlet through his movies. Revolving around the poet and playwright’s work, life and its parallel features with everyday politics, the two experts delved into the historical connections in their sitting.

 

Poor Economics: Fighting Global Poverty

Packed to the rafters, Abhijit V. Banerjee’s session with Sreenivasan Jain was one of the most awaited of all, if not the most. Along with insights from his (and his team’s) social experiments and solutions, ranging from sectors of health and education to employment, the Nobel laureate also touched upon the current political climate, answering questions candidly. “One of the most dangerous things we have done is being cynical about governments.”

 

Bolna Hi Hai: What Must Be Said

His session may have coincided with Abhijit V. Banerjee’s highly anticipated one, but that didn’t stop the viewers from rushing in to hear Ravish Kumar in a conversation with Nilanjana S. Roy. A journalist, author and most recently, the recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay Award, Kumar didn’t mince his words in the discourse that perfectly captured the turmoil that the country is currently witnessing, going on to encourage the younger generation to ask the right questions. 

The Travel Session

Who doesn’t love a good travel story? Scratch that, who doesn’t love a couple of them! With writers Katie Hickman, Howard Jacobson, Elizabeth Gilbert, Peter Hessler, Suketu Mehta, and William Dalrymple coming together to read selected excerpts from their works—all having authored books or novels in the genre—the travel session was bound to be a delight.  

 

MediaFile: Fact, Fiction And Spaces In Between

There is no denying the role that media has to play in a country and configuring the same were Ruben Banerjee, Taran N.Khan, and Sonia Singh in conversation with Faye D’Souza. From all that is currently lacking to what must be done to provide insightful news, 'MediaFile: Fact, Fiction And Spaces In Between' proved to be a thought-provoking session. 

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