If January is here, can JLF be far behind? The Jaipur Literature Festival, traditionally held in the last week of January, is scheduled to kick off on the 24th of this month and go on till the 29th. With its five-day schedule jam-packed with sessions with some of the best writers, poets, academics, historians, political figures and public intellectuals – the JLF can often leave you short of breath.
To help you not feel completely clueless while navigating your way through the sessions and venues at Diggi Palace, here are ten books you can read (or read about – we are not judging) in the days to come so you are better prepared for JLF 2019.
Less By Andrew Sean Greer
This comic novel revolves around homosexuality, aging, travelling and avoiding exes. The book was featured on the New York Times Bestseller list, and even landed itself the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2018.
Session to attend: Writing About Writing, Andrew Sean Greer with Anita Nair in conversation with Prayaag Akbar, on 24th Jan
The Female Eunuch By Germaine Greer
One of the bigger names on the JLF speakers list this year is eminent feminist scholar and writer Germaine Greer. Despite controversial statements in the recent past, she and her work largely remain relevant in academic and literary circles. The book is her most noteworthy text and might be an enlightening read to squeeze in before you pack your bags for JLF.
Session to attend: Beyond the Female Eunuch, Germain Greer in conversation with Bee Rowlatt, on 24th Jan
Em And The Big Hoom By Jerry Pinto
Em and the Big Hoom was Pinto’s first novel and much of its contents were drawn from his own life and experiences. The book is a darkly charming narrative on motherhood, mental health and Mumbai. The sharp humour of the book makes it a delightful read that you can finish in just a couple of days.Session to attend: Writing Family, Jerry Pinto with Paul McVeigh in conversation with Veena Venugopal, on 25th Jan
The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency By Alexander McCall Smith
Not an unfamiliar name thanks to the 2007 TV show by the same name, The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency is actually the first book in an entire series of novels. McCall Smith’s protagonist, Precious Ramotswe, features in this series serving equal dosages of mystery and humour.
Session to attend: Tea-Time for the Traditionally Built, Alexander McCall Smith in conversation with William Dalrymple , on 25th Jan
Call Me By Your Name By Andre Aciman
After the Oscar-winning tale of the summer romance of Elio and Oliver, the novel has seen its way on to a lot of bookshelves. It’s great if you have already watched Timothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer go around Italy on screen, but you know what they say about the book always being better than the movie.Session to attend: Call Me By Your Name, Andre Aciman in conversation with Anindita Ghosh, on 26th Jan
The Forest Of Enchantments By Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
A brand-new novel by the popular author, The Forest of Enchantments is an interesting retelling of the Ramayana. In this novel, Sita takes centre stage and reinterprets what the epic conveys. If you are completely unfamiliar with Banerjee Divakaruni’s work, The Palace of Illusions is also a good option, which is written in the point-of-view of Draupadi.
Session to attend: The Forest of Enchantment, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni in conversation with Shobhaa De, on 26th Jan
Life Of Pi By Yann Martel
This story of shipwreck and survival was also adapted into a gorgeous Oscar-winning production by Ang Lee. We would highly recommend reading the novel for its fascinating narrative about Pi, his ponderings and, of course, Richard Parker. (For those in a hurry: there are Sparknotes for the novel too!)
Session to attend: Before and after Pi, Yann Martel in conversation with Jerry Pinto, on 27th Jan
Sacred Games By Vikram Chandra
Ok, so this one is a feat reserved for superfast readers. The book clocks in over 900 pages and can seem like a pretty intimidating volume to get through. But we are sure once the thriller grips you, it would be difficult to put it down. However, if time constraints persist, simply binge on the Anurag Kashyap-directed Netflix series by the same name. Easy-peasy.
Session to attend: Adaptations, Andre Aciman, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Irvine Welsh, Vikram Chandra and Yann Martel in conversation with Anindita Ghose, on 27th Jan
Days Without End By Sebastian Barry
This 2016 novel won both the Costa Book Award and the 2017 Walter Scott Prize. It was also included in Time’s list of best novels for the year. Barry is an Irish writer who is known for his prose, poetry and drama. Days Without End follows his earlier novels which introduced his readers to the McNulty family.
Session to attend: Days Without End, Sebastian Barry in conversation with Chandrahas Choudhury, on 28th Jan
Trainspotting By Irvine Welsh
The book gave rise to the wild 1996 black comedy film, starring Ewan McGregor, and its 2017 sequel, T2. The narrative centres on a group of heroin addicts in Edinburgh. Welsh has also written a sequel, Porno, and a prequel, called Skagboys, after the cult popularity of Trainspotting.
Session to attend: After Trainspotting, Irvine Welsh in conversatin with Chandrahas Choudhury, on 28th Jan
Now you know what to read up on according to the JLF days you plan to attend. If you are not a stranger to the event, keep in mind that sessions are sometimes moved across the schedule. But with other bigshots like Jeffrey Archer, Markus Zusak, Shabana Azmi and Upamanyu Chatterjee, we doubt you will run out of speakers to look out for. In any case, happy reading!
Check out the festival's official site here.
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