Jaipur: Writer and politician Shashi Tharoor launched Indian writer, publisher and festival director, Namita Gokhale’s book Jaipur Journals in the ‘Front Lawns’ of the Jaipur Literature Festival 2020 today. The session also featured Namita Gokhale in conversation with Shashi Tharoor and bestselling author Shunali Khullar Shroff.
Published by Penguin Random House, Jaipur Journals is set against the backdrop of the vibrant multilingual Jaipur Literature Festival, where diverse stories of lost love and the new beginnings come together in a narrative that is as varied as India itself.
In her opening remarks, Shunali Khullar Shroff said that Jaipur Journals is meta-fiction – literature about literature.
Speaking on the occasion Shashi Tharoor said that he first heard Namita Gokhale in the BBC World series discussing her first book Paro. He said he knew Namita Gokhale as a writer twenty years before she became part of Jaipur Literature Festival and that he hopes she keeps writing. He said that Jaipur Journals is a celebration of the festival of writers, of participants, of the audience, she has fascinating characters woven into it. He was pleased to see that he was also mentioned in the book in a charming scene.
Speaking at the session Namita Gokhale said that the very idea of writing this book came from an American friend who has never been to the festival. She said her book will give the reader insight into the festival, both onstage and behind the scenes. She spoke of the pathos and loneliness of the writing life, about her favourite character in the book, Rudrani Rana, and of a delightful burglar who, inspired by Javed Akhtar, becomes a poet. Gokhale had the audience in splits when she described how she came up with the character of the burglar. She also spoke at length about her writing process.
Namita Gokhale’s writing includes eighteen works of fiction and non-fiction. Her acclaimed debut novel, Paro: Dreams of Passion, published in 1984, has remained a cult classic and has been issued in a double edition with its sequel Priya. Gokhale has worked extensively across genres on Indian mythology, including her retelling of the Indian epic in the Puffin Mahabharata, and her novel for young readers, Lost in Time: Ghatotkacha and the Game of Illusions. .Gokhale was the first recipient of the Centenary National Award is given by the Asam Sahitya Sabha. Along with JLF, she is also the founder and co-director of Mountain Echoes and Bhutan Literature Festival. She is also a director of Yatra Books, a publishing house specializing in translation.