What do Oprah Winfrey, The Dalai Lama and Vikram Seth have in common? You got it, they’ve all been to the Jaipur Literature Festival. Every year, the JLF manages to spin a fresh curiosity about who would be the star speaker of the year.
Well, the wait is over. All the ‘Who’s coming this year?’ questions have been laid to rest. The speakers’ list for Jaipur Literature Festival 2014 (17th to 21st January) has been announced, and here’s a handpicked shortlist of speakers you must not miss:
1. Jhumpa Lahiri
Photo Credit: The Lowland
This one is expected to be the stellar talk of JLF 2014. You absolutely have to attend the session with Pulitzer Prize winning author Jhumpa Lahiri who will be making her debut appearance at the lit fest. Her collection of short stories Interpreter of Maladies was a huge hit with critics and readers alike. Her first novel, The Namesake, was adapted into a Hollywood film starring Irrfan Khan and Tabu. Her latest novel, The Lowland was launched in September 2013 and Barack Obama was spotted buying a copy!
2. Mary Kom
Woman power is on an all-time high at Jaipur this season. Our very own Olympic star, Mary Kom, is coming to talk about her autobiography, which will be published in 2014. The bronze medalist from Manipur is a five-time World Boxing champion, and the only woman boxer to have won a medal in each one of the six world championships.
3. Irrfan Khan
Photo Credit: Irrfan Khan's Twitter handle
He’s our ticket to Hollywood. Irrfan Khan or Paan Singh Tomar, has a never-ending list of awards to his credit. He’s won the National Award, the Padma Shri, and the Filmfare Award (three times!), and the Screen Actors Guild Award. Khan is expected to be in conversation with writer Sabrina Dhawan.
4. Sabrina Dhawan
Wondering who Sabrina Dhawan is? Remember Monsoon Wedding? That fun Mira Nair movie that presented the big fat Punjabi wedding? Well, if you liked that, you must catch the session between its screenwriter Sabrina Dhawan and Irrfan Khan. She now lives in New York and is a professor at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, in the Department of Dramatic Writing.
5. Amartya Sen
After all that filmi jazz if you are in the mood for some serious stuff, head to Indian economist and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen’s talk. Get your share of wisdom on welfare economics, social choice theory and social justice of developing nations. He is currently the Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard University. He’s also the author of several books including the famous The Argumentative Indian and the more recent An Uncertain Glory.
6. Dayanita Singh
A topnotch photographer and bookmaker, Dayanita Singh has published 10 books, the latest of them being File Room. In her works she captures India in all its curious shades from upper-class sitting rooms to the life and loves of a cemetery-dwelling eunuch. And oh, she’s obsessed with paper – she actually dedicated an entire book to stacks of paper. Ask her why.
7. Samantha Shannon
She’s an inspiration for all aspiring actors. Many go as far as saying she could be the next JK Rowling! She started writing at the age of 15. She went on to sign a six-figure book deal with Bloomsbury Publishing for a seven-book series. The first in line The Bone Season sold its film rights to Andy Serkis's film company, The Imaginarium Studios, in November 2012.
8. Rupert Everett
Photo Credit: Vicki Neave/ Wikimedia
Now that you’ve had your dose of Bollywood, why should Hollywood get left behind? You will remember English actor Rupert James Hector Everett from the memorable roles he played in various films including Julia Roberts’ gay friend in My Best Friend's Wedding, the gay student in Another Country, the villain in Dunston Checks In, Madonna’s friend in The Next Best Thing and then the Shrek sequels.
9. Robyn Davidson
Got travel on your mind? Meet Robyn Davidson, an Australian travel writer famous for her book called Tracks, which chronicles a 1,700-mile trek across the deserts of west Australia using camels. This one actually comes from a personal experience when she moved to Alice Springs back in the 70s to work with camels for a desert trek she was planning. For two entire years she trained camels and learned how to survive in the harsh desert.
10. Cheryl Strayed
Meet American memoirist, novelist and essayist – Cheryl Strayed. Famous for her book, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, which bagged the No. 1 spot on the ‘New York Times Best Seller list’ in hardcover nonfiction for seven consecutive weeks. The book even made it to Oprah's Book Club 2.0 in June 2012. What’s more, Hollywood actress Reese Witherspoon is expected to star in the movie adaptation of the film produced as Strayed.
So now that you know the dates for JLF 2014 and the authors coming, what are you waiting for? Book your tickets, find a hotel in Jaipur, and get going to the lit fest!