JLF returns to Houston in person after 2 years, excites book lovers


An eclectic mix of topics ranging from literature and geopolitics to economic and climate crises dominated the discourse during the fifth edition of the Jaipur Literature Festival held in person here this weekend after two years of virtual offerings due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Each year, the festival brings together renowned writers, thinkers, humanitarians, politicians, business leaders and artists on one stage, catering to large audiences around the world.

The highlights of this year’s two-day festival, which kicked off on September 9, were excellent, fast-paced and engaging panel discussions on literature, art, music, cuisine and history, which were attended a large number of book lovers.

“JLF brings together participants from the West and the East. The diversity among this year’s speakers will present a range of conversations highlighting the most important topics in the contemporary world,” Teamwork Arts Managing Director and Festival Producer Sanjoy K Roy told PTI.

Acclaimed authors and thinkers included former United States Ambassador Michael Pelletier, author and professor Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, mathematician and writer Manil Suri, FotoFest executive director Steven Evans, New York Times bestselling author Varsha Bajaj , local chef/restaurateur Anita Jaisinghani and a host of other top American and Indian talent.

“We are thrilled to once again partner with Teamwork Arts and Inprint to be back in person for the fifth edition of JLF Houston,” said Michael Buening, Director of Performing Arts and Culture, Asia Society Texas Center.

“We need to engage our students in the world because we are so connected to each other through commerce and culture and an event like JLF Houston is the most natural and logical thing for Global Engagement educates, engages and leads in the global education of our students,” said former U.S. Ambassador Michael Pelletier, currently HU’s first executive director of the Houston Institute for Global Engagement.

A Friday evening music and spirituality session by author and classical singer Dr Reba Som took the audience on a journey through the extraordinary life of 19th century Indian mystic Swami Vivekananda.

Houston-based writer, poet, and award-winning scholar Divakaruni captivated audiences with a gripping conversation about her new novel, “The Last Queen,” portraying one of the most fearless women of the 19th century, Rani Jindan, the last of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. queen.

Varsha Bajaj, whose recent book, ‘Thirst’, is a poignant interpretation of class, wealth and equity around water disparity in suburban Mumbai, spoke with the writer and civilian leader Andrea White.

Mathematician and novelist Manil Suri discussed his book “The Big Bang of Numbers: How to Build the Universe Using Only Math” with Pakistani American writer Maya Kanwal.

Dalit activist Guru Prakash Paswan interacted with political commentator and writer Sunanda Vashisht during the session titled “Intersections: In Search of Equity”, and discussed the wounds of history and restorative justice processes.

Her co-authored book, “Makers of Modern Dalit History”, presents inspiring stories of individuals who fought against the divisive and discriminatory force of caste, their forms of protest, activism, social reform and legacy. in contemporary India.

Anita Jaisinghani, chef and founder of the Pondicheri restaurant in Houston, paid tribute to the wisdom and techniques of Indian cooking.

Her cookbook “Masala: Recipes from India, the Land of Spices” is an ode to India’s rich culinary history.

Other notable sessions include ‘Points of View: An Archival Look at Photography in India’, a showcase of photography in colonial and postcolonial India moderated by Gayatri Sinha and Steven Evans in conversation.

The famous poet Roberto Tejada in conversation with Rich Levy, where the audience was taken on a poetic path. Authors Naheed Phiroze Patel and Sonal Kohli discussed their writing trips and the latest books ‘Mirror Made of Rain’ and ‘The House Next to the Factory’ respectively.

After Houston, JLF will be held in New York from September 12-14, and beginning September 16, a three-day festival will be held in Boulder, Colorado.

Producer JLF Teamwork Arts organized the event in association with the Asia Society, non-profit literary association Inprint, University of Houston (UH), India House, Indo-American Chamber of Greater Houston (IACCGH ), the Brazos bookstore and the Pondicheri restaurant.

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