The five-day event will feature as many as 240 speakers

The seventh edition of the popular Jaipur Literature Festival, beginning at Diggi Palace here on Friday, will feature as many as 240 speakers, including two Nobel laureates — Amartya Sen and Harold Varmus — who will engage in conversations on a wide range of subjects.

The biggest annual literary event in Asia is expected to receive about 2 lakh literature lovers from across the country and abroad. The five-day festival, representing 14 Indian languages, will conclude on January 21.

The speakers include author Jonathan Franzen, poet and lyricist Javed Akhtar, author Jhumpa Lahiri, feminist and journalist Gloria Steinem, author Shashi Tharoor, poet Ashok Vajpeyi, Urdu poet S.R. Faruqi, writer Ved Mehta, writer and scholar Reza Aslan, author Samantha Shannon, literary critic and activist Ganesh Devy, author and film director M. T. Vasudevan Nair, playwright Mahesh Dattani, and author Narendra Kohli.

Besides an increased capacity this year, the open-to-all festival site will have a new venue dedicated to children and youngsters. Festival co-director Namita Gokhale said here on Thursday that the JLF would pay tribute to several themes such as “endangered languages” which will deal with the challenges of linguistic diversity, and “crime and punishment” which will look at accountability and culpability.

“The democracy dialogues will search larger issues of political and social evolution and will be of special interest in an electoral year when India is at the crossroads of change,” Ms. Gokhale said.

Prof. Amartya Sen will deliver the keynote address. The festival will be inaugurated by Rajasthan Governor Margaret Alva. The coveted DSC prize for South Asian literature, which celebrates the richness and diversity of South Asian writing, will be awarded to its fourth winner on Saturday.

Ms. Gokhale said the award-winning writers addressing different sessions would be drawn from 19 different literary prizes, including Man Booker, Pulitzer, Commonwealth Writers, Crossword and Sahitya Akademi.

The 17th century picturesque Diggi Palace will come alive with discussions ranging from history and environment to politics, international relations, Bollywood, human emotions, philosophy and art in 175 sessions spread over six venues.