17/01/2019 6:07 PM IST

Jaipur Literature Festival 2019: 15 Sessions You Must Attend

Colson Whitehead, Benyamin, Andre Aciman, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni and Vikram Chandra are just a few of the speakers headlining panels this year.

Hindustan Times via Getty Images

The most anticipated alerts from ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival 2019 will arguably be on Twitter — at the @JLFInsider handle.

But for everyone actually at Diggi Palace this year, HuffPost India has shortlisted 15 of the 150+ sessions, taking place over five days (24-28 January), to help you make the most of the packed programme this year.

Expect panels on gender and race, migration and adaptation, language and the literary process — and an enriching exchange of words and ideas between Indian and international authors. Add these to your diary.


1. Between the Covers: Form and Fiction (2.30 pm - 3.30 pm, Durbar Hall)

Three writers — Anjum Hasan, Kanishk Tharoor and Mahesh Rao — perhaps best known for their short stories, will be in conversation with author-translator Mitra Phukan. Hasan’s A Day in the Life and Rao’s Polite Society were both published to wide acclaim in 2018. 

2. The Underground Railroad (3.45 pm - 4.45 pm, Charbagh)

Catch the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, Colson Whitehead, in conversation with Kanishk Tharoor — courtesy of the American Embassy — and ahead of his much-anticipated 2019 release The Nickel Boys.


3. Where Does Fiction Come From? (11.15 am - 12.15 pm, Charbagh)

Literary heavyweights Andrew Sean Greer, Ben Okri, Sebastian Barry, Tania James and Vikram Chandra will be in conversation with writer Chandrahas Choudhury. We can’t wait for some answers.

4. Jasmine Days: Winner of 2018 JCB Prize for Literature (12.30 pm - 1.30 pm, Charbagh)

Part of the JCB Prize for Literature series. See Benyamin, winner of the inaugural JCB Prize for Literature 2018, his translator Shahnaz Habib, and NS Madhavan, a household name in contemporary Malayalam literature — all in conversation with Rajeev Punnoli.

5. The Craft of Fiction (5.15 pm - 6.15 pm, Charbagh)

Amitabha Bagchi and Anuradha Roy, shortlisted for the 2018 JCB Prize for Literature, among other Indian literary prizes last year, for Half The Night Is Gone and All the Lives We Never Lived, respectively — in conversation with Malashri Lal.

Amitabha Bagchi and Anuradha Roy in conversation with Malashri Lal.


6. Process: The Writer at Work (10.00 am - 11.00 am, Front Lawn) 

Citizens and authors of the world, from Mexico to Egypt — Álvaro Enrigue, Colson Whitehead, Ahdaf Soueif, Hari Kunzru, and Yann Martel — talk about their writing processes to Chandrahas Choudhury, whose short stories, Life Lessons from the ChinaDragon, is out this year.

7. Beyond Borders: On Migration and the Novel (12.30 pm - 1.30 pm, Samvad)

A panel featuring a Ugandan novelist and a poet, Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi and Kaveh Akbar, as well as Álvaro Enrigue, Hari Kunzru, and Tania James in conversation with Amitava Kumar about migration — an issue that perhaps most defines our contemporary political moment.

8. Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race (2.30 pm - 3.30 pm, Mughal Tent)

Borrowing its name from Reni Eddo-Lodge’s book of the same name, this panel features Lodge, Anita Heiss, Frankie Edozien, Hari Kunzru, and poet Kayo Chingonyi, moderated by the historian, writer, and broadcaster, David Olusoga.

9. Rainbow Readings (3.45 pm - 4.45 pm, Durbar Hall)

Frankie Edozien, Madhavi Menon, Sandip Roy, and Tova Reich in conversation with Arpita Das. This promises to be a particularly poignant and pertinent session after the Indian Supreme Court’s verdict on Section 377 late last year.

10. The Rabbit and the Squirrel (5.15 pm - 5.45 pm, Bank of Baroda: Baithak)

Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi will talk about his return to fiction after a decade-long hiatus, and his illustrated fable for adults, The Rabbit and the Squirrel.


11. All the Lives We Never Lived (11.15 am - 12.15 pm, Bank of Baroda: Baithak)

Roy’s new novel won the 2018 Tata Literature Live! Book of the Year Award. In this session, the Man Booker long-listed novelist is in conversation with author, poet, journalist, and dancer, Tishani Doshi, whose book Small Days and Nights is forthcoming.

Colson Whitehead, Ahdaf Soueif, Hari Kunzru will talk about their writing process on 26 January. 

12. Adaptations (12.30 pm - 1.30 pm, Front Lawn)

Andre Aciman (of Call Me By Your Name fame), Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni (whose new novel, Forest of Enchantments, is out now), as well as Irvine Welsh, Vikram Chandra, and Yann Martel — discuss the afterlives of their works with Mint Lounge editor Anindita Ghose.

13. Out of Africa: Readings (3.45 pm - 4.45 pm, Bank of Baroda: Baithak)

No literary festival is complete without author readings. Superstars on the African literary landscape — NoViolet Bulawayo, Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, and Zukiswa Wanner — will read from their works, and share the stage with moderator Frankie Edozien.


14. What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape (11.15 am - 12.15 pm, Bank of Baroda: Baithak)

Journalist and author Sohaila Abdulali takes the microphone to talk to Namita Bhandare about her eponymous book — a must-read in the age of #MeToo.

15. A House Divided: Of Fiction and Civil Wars (2.30 pm - 3.30 pm, Bank of Baroda: Baithak)

Authors Anuk Arudpragasam (The Story of a Brief Marriage) and Sebastian Barry (most recently of Days Without End) speak to Yasmine El Rashidi about books and borderlines.