Jaipur Literature Festival 2022 highlights: Literary greats on freedom of expression

The Jaipur Literature Festival took place between June 10 to June 12 in London, UK, celebrating the best voices around the globe.

Every year, the festival brings together some of the world’s greatest writers, thinkers, humanitarians, politicians, business leaders, sports people and entertainers on one stage to champion the freedom to express and engage in thoughtful debate and dialogue.

Held at the British Library, renowned names including Indian politician, former diplomat and UN Under-Secretary General Shashi Tharoor graced the stage with his well-known eloquence, to talk about his latest book Pride, Prejudice, and Punditry. What would be his 23rd book, it entails 64 essays written over the last two decades, plus 11 works of fiction and poetry.

Tharoor classifies the essays into 10 groups – giants of modern India, Indian politics, the world, on the Hindu way, cricket, humour, “the spoken word”, and on “the writerly life”. Speaking to journalist Pallavi Aiyar on the BL stage, he said that despite his dictionary knowledge of words, he hoped to present his ideas in an accessible way. The audience laughed after he presented an incident where after he used the word “farrago” in a Twitter post, he was considered a little too erudite for the general population.

He said in response: “Then this meant that people felt that I was someone that people didn’t understand, which I feel rather sorry for myself, because obviously I pride myself on communicating effectively. And if you are going to communicate, you need to be understood”.

“If you are going to communicate, you need to be understood”.

Shashi Tharoor, author of Inglorious Empire

Apart from politicians, new authors such as BBC broadcaster and beloved TV presenter Anita Rani spoke to fellow writer and poet Nikita Gill on her memoir The Right Sort of Girl. She talked about the need to bring taboo subjects to light including shame within the community, colourism, as well as highlighting intergenerational trauma brought on by the partition in India.

“I decided to write a book instead to explore how we fit in, discover who we are and make ourselves fit into spaces or not fit into spaces”.

Anita Rani, author of The Right Sort of Girl

She said: “I probably should have gone down the pub and had a chat with a mate, or maybe see a therapist, but I decided to write a book instead to explore how we fit in, discover who we are and make ourselves fit into spaces or not fit into spaces.”

The Countryfile presenter said she will always be a ‘Yorkshire lass’.

“Especially being Indian from Britain, when you land [in India], of course I have a deep connection to India, but Yorkshire is where my heart is”, she added.

Other notable authors included the Nigerian British author of Butterfly Fish Irenosen Okojie and Guyanese-born Canadian author of Shame on Me Tessa McWatt, who spoke about their roots and the need to create stories around the topic with The White Review editor Izabella Scott.

The vibrant affair ended with the likes of Empireland author Sathnam Sanghera and Your Story Matters author Nikesh Shukla gracing the stage.

Check out the interview with Shukla, which looks at the topic of ‘representation burnout’ in episode 55.

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Published by suswatibasu

Suswati Basu is a writer, journalist, producer and feminist activist residing in London. She has written for the Guardian, Huffington Post and the F-Word blogs, and has worked for various media outlets such as the BBC, Channel 4 and for ITV News/ITN. She currently works as a senior intelligence expert.

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