Jaipur Literature Festival, often dubbed "greatest literary show on Earth", returns in January with a glittering line-up, including a session with Tanzanian novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2021.
Set to take place in a hybrid format from January 28 to February 6, JLF 2022 will host over 250 speakers, writers, thinkers, politicians, journalists and pop cultural icons from over 20 Indian and international languages. Other Nobel winners like Daniel Kahneman and Abhijit V. Banerjee are also among the large roster of participating writers, which includes the last Booker Prize winner Damon Galgut, Australian author DBC Pierre and British translator of Korean fiction Deborah Smith who translated Han Kang’s The Vegetarian.
But given the steadily rising COVID-19 caseload – spurred by the emergence of the highly transmissible Omicron variant – fears of a third wave hitting India as early as January might play a dampener for the popular literary festival which was hoping to partially return to its physical avatar after going completely virtual last year. Travel for international authors might be a challenge for the on-ground part of the festival slated from January 28 to February 1 at Jaipur, before it moves online from February 2. "We have the advantage of having our international authors join us online as part of the JLF series for 2022. So yes there are challenges with respect to international travel. Having said that, a number of authors have been happy to come in even if it means quarantining for a week. So, we will see a selection of international speakers here in person as we will speakers from across India and the rest of Asia," said Sanjoy K. Roy, managing director at Teamwork Arts which produces the festival. "We have a plan A, plan B and a plan C. We will follow all COVID protocols that may be in place during the festival and review the situation from time to time.”
The 15th edition of the festival will also host former CEO of PepsiCo Indra Nooyi who will talk about her memoir, My Life in Full: Work, Family and Our Future. Another session will have one of the world’s most sought-after science-fiction writers Kim Stanley Robinson best known for his Mars trilogy. The "global greats of fiction" speaking at the festival this time also include Jonathan Franzen, Colm Toibin, Tahmima Anam, Elif Shafak and Monica Ali, apart from non-fiction superstars like Maya Jasanoff and Robert Macfarlane. "Every year we bring the world’s greatest writers of fiction and non-fiction to Jaipur, but never have we had a line-up as extraordinary as this," said writer, historian and co-director of JLF, William Dalrymple, in a press statement.
The annual literary festival which started in 2006 is also the "world’s largest free literary festival"; there is no fees for the general registration.