Jaipur litfest signs off with record attendance

January 26, 2015 03:52 am | Updated 04:15 am IST - JAIPUR:

The eighth edition of the Jaipur Literature Festival, the world’s largest free literary festival, ended on Sunday with a record participation of 2.45 lakh people during the five days.

The festival will be held at the Southbank Centre in London in May and in Boulder, Colorado, U.S., in autumn.

The latest edition saw a 100 per cent increase in the number of international visitors from 50 countries and a 40 per cent increase in the number of students. This year, the festival welcomed more than 300 authors, up from 240 in 2014, and 140 musicians who participated across 10 venues, two of them, Amer Fort and Hawa Mahal, new.

In a bid to make literature accessible to all by taking authors to schools in Jaipur, 50 sessions were held over two weeks in partnership with Pratham Books.

Notable sessions of the festival included two packed events each of Nobel laureate V.S. Naipaul and former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. The two speakers drew the biggest audience at the Rajnigandha Front Lawn with 5,000 excited book-lovers attending each.

Other highlights over the five days included sessions by Man Booker Prize winner Eleanor Catton; travel writer Paul Theroux; the legends of the silver screen Waheeda Rehman, Naseeruddin Shah and Shabana Azmi; and the novelists Sarah Waters, Kamila Shamsie and Amit Chaudhuri.

This year, the festival awarded three prizes, including the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature to Jhumpa Lahiri; the Ojas Art Award to Bhajju Shyam and Venkat Raman Singh Shyam; and the Khushwant Singh Memorial Prize for Poetry to Arundhathi Subramaniam for her work When God is a Traveller .

“Another year over and the next one just begun. My head is already teeming with ideas, themes, concepts for next year. 2016 will be our best yet,” Namita Gokhale, author and co-director of the 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,” William Dalrymple, author and co-director, said.

“This year’s festival has been a celebration of the freedom of creative expression,” Sanjoy Roy, managing director of Teamwork Arts, producer of the Festival, said.

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