Jaipur Literature Festival announces first list of 25 speakers for 2020 edition


  • Festival Dates – The Jaipur Literature Festival 2020 is scheduled to take place from 23 – 27 January 2020 at the Diggi Palace Hotel, Jaipur, Rajasthan.
  • First list of Speakers Announced – The Festival announced its first list of 25 speakers out of over 250 speakers expected to attend the 2020 edition. The speakers were unveiled via an online engagement with literature enthusiasts guessing the names of the speakers based on clues shared under the hashtag #WordByWord. The first list of authors includes Anand Neelakantan, Anosh Irani, Asma Khan, Ben Judah, Brian Aivars Catlos, Chitra Mudgal, Frank Dikötter, Hallie Rubenhold, Howard Jacobson, Jung Chang, Keki N. Daruwalla, Kent Nerburn, K R Meera, Kunal Basu, Maaza Mengiste, Marcus du Sautoy, Mishi Saran, Nilanjana S. Roy, Om Swami, Raj Kamal Jha, Sara Rai, Shubha Mudgal, Stephen Greenblatt, Suketu Mehta and Vishal Bhardwaj.
  • Registration and Delegate Packages – Online registration for the Festival is mandatory and attendees can register via the Festival website. Visitors can also buy Delegate Packages to experience the Festival’s magic, while mingling with authors, interacting with industry players, relaxing in the Delegate Lounge, and enjoying the Jaipur Music Stage and Heritage Evening.
  • Volunteer Programme – The Jaipur Literature Festival runs a successful Volunteer programme that forms the backbone of its operations while offering young enthusiasts an unmatched enriching experience, enabling them to see first-hand what goes into making and managing a festival of this scale. A 300-strong ‘army’ of dedicated volunteers work across the Festival’s 25 departments. Volunteer registrations are open till October 31, 2019.

The annual Jaipur Literature Festival announced today its much-awaited first list of speakers for its 13th edition, which will take place from 23-27 January 2020 at its beautiful and customary home – the historic Diggi Palace Hotel in Jaipur.

Described as the ‘greatest literary show on Earth’, the Jaipur Literature Festival is a sumptuous feast of ideas. The past decade has seen it transform into a global literary phenomenon having hosted nearly 2000 speakers and welcoming over a million book lovers from across India and the globe.

The Festival’s core values remain unchanged: to serve as a democratic, non-aligned platform offering free and fair access. A true champion of literary and artistic traditions and democratic discourse, the Festival brings together a diverse mix 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, and promotes, above all, a love for literature.

The first list of 25 speakers released today includes Anand Neelakantan, author, columnist, screenwriter, television personality and motivational speaker, who has signed a three-book series deal with the producers of the blockbuster film Baahubali; Anosh Irani, the author of The Bombay Plays: The Matka King & Bombay Black, who was a finalist for the Canadian Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama; Asma Khan, the first British chef to feature in Netflix’s Emmy-nominated Chef’s Table; Ben Judah, the author of Fragile Empire, the Financial Times Summer Book of 2013; Brian Aivars Catlos, author of four scholarly books, including most recently Kingdoms of Faith: A New History of Islamic Spain.

The list continues with Chitra Mudgal, the first Indian woman to receive the Vyas Samman for her acclaimed novel Avaan; Frank Dikötter, author of a dozen books on modern China, including Mao’s Great Famine, winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction in 2011; Hallie Rubenhold, bestselling author whose latest book The Five, has been longlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize and shortlisted for the Crime Writer’s Association Gold Dagger; Howard Jacobson, recipient of the 2010 Man Booker Prize for his book The Finkler Question; Jung Chang, author of the bestselling books Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China, Mao: The Unknown Story (with Jon Halliday) and Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China; Keki N. Daruwalla, winner of the Sahitya Akademi Award; Kent Nerburn, widely known for his insights into Native American culture, whose trilogy Neither Wolf nor Dog, The Wolf at Twilight and The Girl Who Sang to the Buffalo are core works in multicultural curricula throughout the world; KR Meera, winner of the Kendra and Kerala Sahitya Akademi awards whose novel Aaraachaar has sold around 150,000 copies and its translation, Hangwoman, shortlisted for the DSC Prize.

They are joined by Kunal Basu, the author of The Japanese Wife, the lead story of which was made into an award-winning film; Maaza Mengiste, author of Beneath the Lion’s Gaze, selected by The Guardian as one of the 10 best contemporary African books; Marcus du Sautoy, author of six books, including the recent The Creativity Code and a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford; Mishi Saran, author of The Other Side of Light, who shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book Prize; Nilanjana S. Roy, author of the award-winning fantasy novel The Wildings; and Om Swami, the brain behind the fastest-growing meditation and kindness movement in the world, Black Lotus.

There’s also Raj Kamal Jha, award-winning journalist, internationally-acclaimed for his novels which have been translated into more than a dozen languages; Sara Rai, author of Im Labyrinth which won the Coburg Rückert Prize 2019 for its German translation by Johanna Hahn; Stephen Greenblatt, recipient of the Pulitzer Prize; Shubha Mudgal, veteran Hindustani vocalist, who has written a collection of short stories which revolve around the music that has nurtured her; Suketu Mehta, author of Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found, which won the Kiriyama Prize and the Hutch Crossword Award, and a 2005 Pulitzer finalist; Vishal Bhardwaj, acclaimed film director, writer, composer and producer, who published his first book of poems titled Nude in 2018.

The Festival will open as usual with its B2B arm, Jaipur BookMark (JBM), now in its seventh edition, with a full day of programming on 22 January at Diggi Palace followed by sessions at a dedicated JBM venue at the Festival Hub from the 23-25 January. JBM will continue to bring together a wide range of publishers, literary agents, writers, translators, translation agencies and booksellers from across the world and give them an opportunity to meet, talk business and listen to major global industry players.

Namita Gokhale, writer, publisher and Co-director of the Jaipur Literature Festival, said, “The upcoming edition of the Jaipur Literature Festival arrives with the same magical promise of books and authors, ideas and creativity, generating a collective intellectual energy unparalleled anywhere. We have a stellar lineup of authors from India and around the world, including celebrated chef Asma Khan, classical singer Shubha Mudgal   with her acclaimed new collection of short stories, brilliant Hindi writer Sara Rai, mathematician and science writer Marcus du Sautoy, writer and journalist Ben Judah, and so very many others. Vision 2020 will be a new voyage of discovery to help us understand and reflect on the ever-changing world around us.”

William Dalrymple, writer, historian and Co-director of the Jaipur Literature Festival, said, “This is unquestionably one of the best lists we’ve ever gathered: five days of non-stop genius. Can’t wait to see everyone there!”

Sanjoy K. Roy, Managing Director of Teamwork Arts who produce the Jaipur Literature Festival, said, “At Jaipur Literature Festival in 2020, we look forward to strengthening our core values- to create a platform that celebrate ideas, reaches out to young people and allows them free access to knowledge and education This year Teamwork Arts has extended the Festival into two overseas locations, Belfast and Toronto by making the Festival more accessible and  taking India to the world!”

 The Jaipur Literature Festival sets literary conversations and dialogue against a cultural backdrop promoting India’s traditional heritage including curated art installations, cultural evenings and the Jaipur Music Stage, which runs parallel to the Festival.

While entry to the Festival is free and open to all, attendees can choose to purchase Delegate Packages, which offer a special experience of the Festival and take them on a compelling cultural journey.

As a former Festival Delegate said, “A wonderful experience. As a delegate, I had the opportunity to meet people from all parts of the world and share our love of literature and writing. The concerts were amazing – the venue, music, food and people combined to create an unforgettable experience.”

In addition to enjoying the Festival programme, Delegates get access to the Delegate Lounge, reserved seating at selected sessions, free entry to the Music Stage, invites to special heritage evenings, shop at the Festival Merchandise Area, lunches with authors and fellow delegates, a cocktail evening and much more.