Now that the Jaipur Literary Festival (JLF) in London is over, one needs a few days to reflect on what one learned from an intense weekend fizzing with ideas and discussions on a dizzying range of topics. ZEE JLF at the British Library in London has become a firm and welcomed fixture in the UK’s annual calendar. The literary festival, which originated in Jaipur a decade ago as a unique celebration of writing about South Asia, has extended its reach with international editions spread across destinations as diverse as Belfast, Houston, New York, Colorado, Toronto, and Adelaide. Lovers of words and literature are able to escape from the stresses of their daily lives to hear a host of famous authors talk about their books and exchange views on issues that matter to us all and analyze the significance and impact of historical events.
ZEE JLF is an exuberant celebration of literature, poetry, dance, the arts, and sport. I would add another word to define ZEE JLF in London this year – comforting. The reason for this is that today, when one is exposed to hate-filled messages in the media and in daily discourse, it was comforting to find that there are still people who believe in free expression, harmony, and pluralism. Even in the debates and discussions with speakers who fiercely held opposing views, the tone was civil and did not descend into vicious personal attacks as has become the norm in so many TV shows.