Published On: Tue, Feb 3rd, 2015

World’s largest free literary festival ends on a high with record number of visitors

Report by Santanu Ganguly, Jaipur: The eighth edition of the anupamachopra, the world’s largest free literary festival, ended on a high today as the festival announced 2,45,000 recorded footfalls over the five days – a record number for the Festival, which is completely free and open to all. Electric sessions with Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam and Sir. V.S. Naipaul rocked the festival on the fourth day. 40% increase in students visiting the Festival, with average age of visitor being 21 years old. Dates for next year announced as 21-25 January 2016. Festival set to travel to London, UK and Boulder, USA later this year.

The Festival has seen a doubling of international visitors from 50 difference countries, and a 40% 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 V.S.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.

The Festival closed this evening with a rousing debate on Culture is the New Politics featuring Suhel Seth, Rajiv Malhotra, Arshia Sattar and Shazia Ilmi. The audience were also polled on the debate during the event, with 55.7% agreeing that culture, is the new politics, pointing on the importance of platforms such as the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival for debate.

This year the Festival parntered with 42 trusts, foundations, corporate partners and brands who all supported the Festival, ensuring the event remains free and open to all. Key partners include ZEE Entertainment, Rajnigandha, British Airways, Google, Ford, Mahindra Humanities Centre, Amazon.in, Incredible India, Amity University, Coca Cola, MTS India and Rajasthan Tourism.

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.

Namita Gokhale, author and co-Director of the ZEE Jaipur Literatute Festival said, “Another year over and the next one just begun. My head is already teaming with ideas, themes, concepts for next year. 2016 will be our best yet!”

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, A L Kennedy and Thomas Piketty confirmed for next year – so book your travel and make your plans now for 2016!”

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. We look forward to seeing all our festival fans next January here at Diggi House.“

The ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival is the world’s largest free literary festival, celebrating national and international writers, and encompassing a range of interests including film, music and theatre. The festival has already hosted some of the best-known national and international writers including Orhan Pamuk, J.M. Coetzee, John Berendt, Kiran Desai, Christopher Hampton, Ian McEwan, Vikram Seth, Wole Soyinka, Salman Rushdie, Pico Iyer, Simon Schama, Thomas Keneally, Hanif Kureishi, Vikram Chandra, Anoushka Shankar, Michael Frayn, Stephen Frears, Alexander McCall Smith, Donna Tartt, Tina Brown, Shashi Tharoor, Mohammed Hanif, Paul Zacharia, among many others. The Directors of the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival are William Dalrymple and Namita Gokhale and the festival is produced by Sanjoy K. Roy and Sheuli Sethi of Teamwork Arts. The Festival’s Title Sponsor is ZEE Entertainment.

For over 24 years, Teamwork has presented the finest of Indian performers, writers and visual artists to the world and our own nation. Every year, we produce 21 performing and visual arts and literary festivals in 11 countries, including Australia, Canada, Egypt, Germany, France, Hong Kong, Israel, Scotland, Singapore, South Africa, Spain and USA.

Teamwork produces one of the world’s largest literary gatherings, the annual ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival. Our musical extravaganza, Bollywood Love Story – A Musical, continues to tour the world and has had sold out shows in Austria, Germany, Netherlands, South Africa, Spain and Switzerland. Our International festivals in India have included the bi annual Bonjour India, festival of France with more than 200 events across 18 cities in India and featuring over 250 artists, designers, researchers & entrepreneurs, and OZ fest- a festival of Australia in India.

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