Imagining Our Worlds: Opening Address Roly Keating, Ruchi Ghanshyam, Namita Gokhle, William Dalrymple, Sanjoy K. Roy Kanupriya Dhingra, Official ZEE JLF at the British Library Blogger
ZEE JLF at the British Library returns for its sixth edition in London this weekend.
Roly Keating, chief executive of the British Library, highly appreciative of the collaboration between the Library and the Festival producers, said that “the fit could not be closer”.
Sanjoy K Roy, Festival Producer and Managing Director, Teamwork Arts, welcomed the audience and the dignitaries present at the Festival. He acknowledged the contribution of literature towards the creation of empathy and equity in the world, observing that literature rejoins the contemporary world of growing divisiveness, by making voices heard.
Roy promised a lively engagement with literature, and better weather, quipping, “it won’t get rained out”, unlike the fate of the current men’s cricket World Cup.
Festival coordinator, author and publisher, Namita Gokhle shared details of the events due over the next two days, describing the British Library as the perfect venue, since it is the “unparalleled repository of scholarship” and inspiration to so many creative and curious minds.
Gokhle said the Festival contributed to “something transformative,” which is happening in contemporary India. More than half of the audience at the Jaipur Literature Festival in India are the youth of the country. At the Festival, young India is inspired to listen to some of the finest minds of India, and reach out to them. It is the place “where India thinks aloud”.
Gokhle also announced that on the final day of the festival, the RA Award for debut writing would be announced for the first time.
Author and historian and Festival Director William Dalrymple, exclaimed what an extraordinary thing it was, to watch the growth of this Festival, pointing out that it had received a footfall of over a million in its recent edition in Jaipur. He joked that the British Library had been his office in London for several years, “where my books have been read and researched”. He added that the British Library was so appropriate as the venue for the Festival, because the long and complicated relationship between India and Britain could be addressed here. Literature, he said, is the means through which this address can be made. Dalrymple also expressed his joy over The Festival’s arrival at Belfast, the home to the poet Seamus Heaney.
Ruchi Ghanshyam, High Commisioner of India to the UK, expressed her delight at the British Library being the Festival venue, as the repository of knowledge and wisdom through its numerous books and archives. She recalled that growing up in India in a time when television and transport weren’t as accessible, books were her window into the world, into the world of past, present, and future. Books have helped her in talking about the places and experiences she was deprived accessing. Ghanshyam expressed how, in a similar way, events such as ZEE JLF at the British Library helped in developing an understanding of place and people, in the celebration of books and writers, and “life itself”. Ghanshyam looks forward to the London edition growing even more, expressing her pride in hearing that Festival in Jaipur is now the world’s biggest festival.