Pulitzer prize winning journalist Jeffrey Gettleman addresses some of the key issues that ail our times. He speaks of his experiences as a correspondent in Africa and South Asia and of famine and conflict and the perils to the environment.

In his most ambitious and bestselling book to date, William Dalrymple tells the story of the East India Company. The Anarchy charts how one of the world’s most magnificent empires disintegrated and how it came to be replaced by a dangerously unregulated private company. The East India Company’s founding charter authorized it to "wage war" and it had always used violence to gain its ends. But the creation of this new government marked the moment that the East India Company ceased to be a conventional international trading corporation dealing in silks and spices, and became something much more unusual: an aggressive colonial power in the guise of a multinational business, conquering first Bengal and finally, in 1803, the Mughal capital of Delhi itself.

A session on the essence of storytelling as exemplified in oral and written literatures of Urdu, Persian and Arabic. Musharraf Ali Farooqi, maestro of the mysterious and the unexpected, walks us through his latest novel, The Merman and the Book of Power, a heady mix of past and present, history, and mythology, told in the classical qissa style, a fabulist storytelling form. Writer, poet, and academic, Amira El Zein, is the author of Islam, Arabs, and the Intelligent World of the Jinn, The Bedouins of Hell and The Jinn and Other Poems. In conversation, they speak of the mythological and the mysterious, and how ancient texts and forms continue to fascinate authors and readers alike.

A look at how Shakespeare’s verse and prose operates in performance. An introduction to the rhythm of Shakespeare’s language as well as simple movements (scripts in hand) will be taught in this workshop.

Participants should wear clothing that facilitate easy movement.

Age Limit: 22 years and Above

Capacity: 40

As the East India Company extended its sway across India in the late eighteenth century, many remarkable artworks were commissioned by Company officials from Indian painters who had previously worked for the Mughals. These hybrid paintings explore both the beauty of the Indian natural world and the social realities of the time, exhibiting astonishing brilliance and originality. 

In a world fraught with conflict, eminent writers speak of how they make sense of the disturbances and dystopias around us. Prayaag Akbar’s award-winning novel Leila, adapted into a popular Netflix series, addresses the ongoing conflicts in society. Paul McVeigh’s debut novel, The Good Son, tells the story of the Irish Troubles in turbulent Belfast. Writer and academic Ahmed Dallal has examined the conflicts of the Middle East.

Sharmila Tagore is born to celebrity. The legendary actor, UNICEF goodwill ambassador and Padma Bhushan awardee, has left an indelible mark on Hindi and Bengali cinema. She was married to the cricketing legend Tiger Pataudi, and is mother and mother-in-law to Bollywood superstars. Tagore, a committed patron of the arts, is known for her love of reading. In conversation with festival producer Sanjoy K. Roy, she speaks of cinema, literature, and a lifetime of achievement.

Renowned author Musharraf Ali Farooqi opens up a new world for children, parents, and educators by sharing the art of interactive storytelling developed by him to help children become avid readers through his STORYKIT program. The STORYKIT program has been successfully employed by UNESCO in primary schools to improve children's reading skills.


Age limit: 10 years and above

Capacity: 40

The history of empire has left its footprints across the world as we know it. James Onley, historian and Director of Historical Research at the Qatar National Library, is the author of The Arabian Frontier of the British Raj, which looks at how British India maintained the Pax Britannica on the waters of the Gulf, protecting British interests and managing political relations on both shores. Historian and iconic writer William Dalrymple’s books, including his recent The Anarchy, speak of the history of the Mughal and British Empire. In conversation with Uday Chandra, they speak of empire, its origins, and its lasting impact.

Prayaag Akbar’s powerful dystopian novel, Leila, has been adapted into a Netflix web series. Set sometime in the not-so-distant future, it follows the story of Shalini, in search of her missing daughter Leila and is an unflinching look at the walls of class and privilege that divide the human race. In conversation with Asma Khan, the novelist and journalist speaks of facts and fiction, imagination and reality, and his worries and visions about the future.

Author, publisher and Festival Co-director Namita Gokhale’s new novel Jaipur Journals, searches the inspirations and heartbreaks of the writing life. Set against the backdrop of the vibrant Jaipur Literature Festival, it is a love letter to the "greatest literary show on earth" and a tribute to that loneliest of tribes, the writers. In conversation with Neha Tara Mehta, she speaks of her writing and literary activism, and the context of her latest book.

Pranay Lal speaks of the natural world in terms of the inner life and personality of rocks and shrubs, trees, and grasses and soil as well as of mountains, plains, and deserts which have controlled the evolution and distribution of human and animal life. In conversation with Sanjoy K. Roy, he speaks of the "deep control" of geology and changing climate on our lived lives.

Translating as "initiation', Kumukanda is the name given to the rites a young boy from the Luvale tribe must pass through before he is considered a man. Zambian born UK poet Kayo Chingonyi, winner of the International Dylan Thomas Prize 2018, tells us of his poetic initiation in his negotiation of verse and rhythm, as well as of race, identity, multicultural dialogues, and the power of words. A moving session of readings and conversation with author and poet Sam Meekings.

Do women write differently from men? Are their stories grounded in a different set of realities? How do they confront the challenges and constraints of their situations? Prominent writers Rakhshanda Jalil, Buket Uzuner, and Amal Al-Malki speak of and read from their work, and tell us about the process of chronicling and documenting feminine lives. In conversation with writer and Festival Co-director Namita Gokhale.

The brevity of short fiction, illuminating transformative moments in life, eliminating all that is unnecessary, takes it to the heart of the reader. A session which investigates and celebrates the form and function of the short story. Conversations and contextual readings featuring Alex Shaw, author of the popular Aidan Snow SAS series, Kaltam Jabor M. Al-kuwari, the first Qatari women to author a collection of short stories, and Paul McVeigh, author of The Good Son and director and co-founder of London Short Story Festival, Paul McVeigh.

In Asma's Indian Kitchen, celebrity chef Asma Khan reveals the secrets of her success, telling her immigrant's story, and how food brought her home. Khan hit the spotlight with Chef’s Table on Netflix. Home-style Indian regional food cooked by an all-woman kitchen, family recipes, and no professional chefs. Her London restaurant, Darjeeling Express, celebrates her Mughal ancestry and the busy streets of Calcutta. In conversation with Shobhaa De, the restaurateur discusses her inspired cooking, giving back to society, and more.

Words travel with their own rhythm and momentum, carrying stories of migration and journeys of ideas and material culture in their wake. Zambian-born poet Kayo Chingonyi, now based in the UK, is the winner of the prestigious Dylan Thomas prize. He speaks of the contradictions faced by writers of color in a predominantly white literary culture. Essayist, playwright, and teacher Kim Pereira is of Indian origin but now lives in the US. His work straddles many worlds from Shakespeare to an African American Odyssey. In conversation with poet and academic Sam Meekings, they speak of migrant words and hyphenated identities.

Buket Uzuner’s I Am Istanbul, or Istanbulians, is a work of fiction that encapsulates the spirit and history of the fast-changing capital of Turkey, and serves as an introduction not only to "the city of a thousand names" but to the very spirit of its inhabitants. Author of several short stories, novels, and travelogues, Uzuner, who writes in Turkish, has been translated into eight languages. In conversation with academic Firat Oruc, she discusses the changing face of the city she calls home.

What are the sources, inspirations, and philosophy of the poetic imagination? Multivocal readings where different languages and styles converge in a joyous celebration with the poets introducing and reading from their work. Amira El-Zein has published four anthologies of poetry. Musharraf Ali Farooqi has translated classical and modern poetry from the Urdu. Kaltam Jabor M. Al-kuwari is an award-winning Qatari writer and poet. Kim Pereira is an essayist, playwright, and teacher who has written extensively on theatre and poetry.

In his book, Early Indians, Tony Joseph speaks of the life-changing journeys our ancestors took and attempts to trace the patterns of migration, the spread of Homo sapiens and the genetic evidence about the great leaps in the human journey. In conversation with historian William Dalrymple, he takes in an intriguing journey into our common past.

How do facts and fictions interact in the realm of the written word? What is the balance between the imagination and lived life of the writer? In an age where facts are devalued, does fiction carry more credibility? Three writers dissect the fiction writer’s craft and its inherent challenges.

The incomparable Shobhaa De is a novelist, columnist, screenwriter, and political commentator. Her debut novel Starry Nights was a runaway bestseller. Her subsequent books, spanning candid memoirs, thoughtful reflections and sultry fiction about celebrities and high society have elevated her to cult status. A natural provocateur, her writing always manages to be topical, outspoken, and entertaining. Listen in to her sharp and witty takes one modern life as she speaks to Sanjoy K. Roy about her books and writing as well as love, life, and learnings.