As the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival gears up for its forthcoming 12th edition (January 24th-28th, 2019, The Diggi Palace, Jaipur), all eyes are on its well-balanced programme, loaded in both style and substance. As always, top writers of fiction from across the world have bagged on slots in meaningful sessions which are widely looked forward to.
In The Underground Railroad, named after Colson Whitehead’s heart-wrenching tour de force, chronicling a young slave’s adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South, which won the Pulitzer in 2016, the author makes his debut appearance in South Asia, in a conversation with novelist Kanishk Tharoor.
In Nigerian writer and poet Ben Okri’s most significant novel, the Man Booker-winning The Famished Road, a young woman is arrested for speaking four simple words – ‘Who is the Prisoner?’ This question resonates throughout the novel and the answer is implicit in the revelation at the heart of the story. In conversation with fellow novelist Rana Dasgupta, Okri gets to the heart of his own life and writing in The Freedom Artist.
A number of sessions have been planned on the exhaustive, and excruciatingly precise craft of the novel.
Examining the actual process of producing a great and memorable novel in The Writer at Work, are five novelists from around the world – Ahdaf Soueif, Álvaro Enrigue, Colson Whitehead, Hari Kunzru and Yann Martel – belonging across Mexico to Egypt, talking about their search for inspiration with Chandrahas Choudhury.
Five of the world’s greatest living novelists – Vikram Chandra, Sebastian Barry, Andrew Sean Greer, Tania James, and Ben Okri share their insights on the art of the novel in Where Does Fiction Come From? They explore questions like ‘What is the process of creating fiction?’ and ‘How do you make up characters and situations that are believable and why should the reader care?’
It is time then to leaf through one’s collection of fiction, novels old and new, read, unread and reread, and wait for the unfolding of the big, bold and beautiful spectacle of fiction-writing at the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival 2019.