Programme

As the international community copes with startling new realities following the stunning collapse of Kabul, a panel explores different aspects of the unravelling. They search for signals as they examine fault lines, socio-political and historical context, and the way forward to provide relief to the ordinary men and women stuck in the crossfire.

 

Classicist and author Edmund Richardson’s latest book, Alexandria: The Quest for the Lost City, takes us on a riveting journey through 19th century India and Afghanistan to unravel the extraordinary exploits of Charles Masson and his discovery of the lost city of Alexandria Beneath the Mountains at Bagram near Kabul. For centuries, Alexandria Beneath the Mountains was a meeting point of East and West. The narrative unfurls the story behind the brilliant East India Company deserter, traveller, archaeologist and spy who rediscovered the city and his path to becoming one of Asia’s most remarkable scholars. In conversation with Taran N. Khan, Richardson explores this tale of espionage, opportunity and discovery.

 

Writer and historian Shrabani Basu’s latest book, The Mystery of the Parsee Lawyer, explores Arthur Conan Doyle’s attempts at proving the innocence of a young lawyer’s wrongful conviction. Son of the first Parsee Vicar in Britain in the early 1900s, George Edalji, and his family, were often subject to racism and discrimination. Following this unexpected friendship, Basu masterfully depicts an eye-opening account of racial injustice in the pre-war era.  In conversation with broadcaster and journalist Georgina Godwin, Basu unravels this bizarre tale of Conan Doyle as a champion of justice and the perils of being ‘foreign’ in a nation built on empire.

 

 

A session with noted chefs and historians as they talk about the roots of Indian spices, evolving cuisine and the future of our cooking habits in a post pandemic world. Weaving together the memory, history and unifying power of food, they evaluate the Indian palate and its rich tapestry of flavours, spices and cultural heritage.

 

A deep dive into the fascinating world of conservation, nature and oceanography with Swati Thiyagarajan as she takes us on a vivid and transformative journey. An Indian conservationist and documentary filmmaker, Thiyagarajan is the author of  Born Wild: Journeys Into the Wild Hearts of India and Africa. Her documentary series, Born Wild, ran for over a decade on a prime time television network. Most recently, she has worked as Associate Producer and Production Manager of the Oscar-winning documentary My Octopus Teacher, featuring her husband Craig Foster and tracing the tender, almost mentor-like relationship between a sea diver and a female octopus, his teacher in the deep. Shot underwater in South Africa, the film is a visual feast that has struck a chord with audiences worldwide. In conversation with Gargi Rawat, Thiyagarajan explores the fragility of life and humanity's connection with nature along with the driving force behind her relentless efforts through the years.

Mathematician Kim Plofker is a leading scholar of the history of  maths and astronomy in Sanskrit and other Indian languages. In conversation with William Dalrymple, Plofker chronicles the development of mathematical techniques and texts in South Asia from antiquity to the early modern period, re-examining the few facts about Indian mathematics that have become common knowledge, such as the Indian origin of Arabic numerals, and sets them in a larger textual and cultural framework. Her work details aspects of the subject that have been largely passed over in the past, including the relationships between Indian mathematics and astronomy, and their cross-fertilisations with Islamic scientific traditions. 

 

Author Moin Mir began writing under the influence of his grandfather, a scholar of Sufism, Omar Khayyam and Mirza Ghalib. He speaks of the varied aspects of Sufi art, its philosophical geometrical symmetry and its mystic musical traditions. Steeped in Sufism, he communicates its spiritual love and understanding and its layered contributions to art, mathematics, mysticism and science. In his latest novel The Lost Fragrance of Infinity, Mir takes us on a  journey from Delhi to Andalusia, capturing  the Soul of Sufi art in all its variations through the life story of a tile maker and restorer.

 

A riveting tribute to feminine might and their powerful connection with Mother Earth. Alice Albinia’s latest work, Cwen, presents us with a matriarchal Eve’s paradise offering a universe where women run all institutions and businesses. As the matriarch of this island mysteriously disappears, the narrative unfolds a telling portrait of a world at the cusp of revolutionary change. In conversation with former Editor-in-Chief of Bloomsbury Alexandra Pringle, Albinia  dives into a tale of female power, potential and reclamation.

 

Archaeologist Cat Jarman’s recent book, River Kings: A New History of Vikings from Scandinavia to the Silk Roads, adds new dimensions to our understanding of the famed Nordic raiders and settlers and their journeys to both East and West At the heart of Jarman's story is a small Carnelian bead from Gujarat found in a Viking mass grave in Derbyshire. This discovery opens up a whole new world of exploration, trade and raids between the east and the west. In conversation with author and Festival Co-Director William Dalrymple, Jarman explores a new way of looking at the Vikings, their eastward travels and its impact on early medieval history.

 

Two powerful writers come together to take us on a journey through the New Testament and the Gospel. Jeet Thayil’s latest book, Names of the Women, reclaims the stories of women from the Bible. Going beyond Mary of Magdala, the intricate narrative unfurls the lives of the women who stood by Jesus Christ. Christos Tsiolkas' stunning new novel, Damascus, follows the events surrounding the birth and establishment of the Christian church. The vivid narrative intricately dissects doubt, faith, tyranny and sacrifice, and remains a powerful testament to spiritual yearning and the human desire to transcend the physical world. In conversation with Supriya Nair, they talk about creating a wholly fresh fictional world out of some of the most familiar scriptures in world history.

Writer, publisher and Festival Director Namita Gokhale speaks of a life in books. 

In a freewheeling conversation with Sanjoy K. Roy, she takes us on a journey from her 1984 debut novel, Paro: Dreams of Passion, to The Himalayan trilogy,  to Jaipur Journals, and The Blind Matriarch which is her 20th book. Gokhale’s work covers multiple genres including fiction, mythology, drama, Himalayan studies and books for young readers. 

A delicious mix of politics, glamour, food and all things rude. Columnist, writer and journalist Vir Sanghvi’s memoir, A Rude Life, takes us on a compelling journey through his formative years,  his time in Oxford, movie and political journalism, television and magazines – and the unforgettable characters he met along the way. Turning his dispassionate gaze upon himself, Sanghvi evaluates the experiences and challenges that have formed one of the most eventful careers in Indian journalism. In conversation with award-winning journalist Namita Bhandare, Sanghvi looks into the personal and the political as well as the world of film and glamour while providing a glimpse into some of his biggest stories.

Raven Leilani's award winning debut, Luster, has been described as a millenial novel. Written in the first person, it carries the ache of youth and has a brutal and incisive eye for racism and racist violence. The intergenerational narrative follows a young girl's attempts at understanding life while navigating relationships, anger and her own hidden potential. In conversation with Catharine Morris, Associate Editor of the Times Literary Supplement, Leilani introduces us to the world of Edie in all her unabashed individuality, sexuality, humour and rage.

 

A session which explores the reality and legacy of the British empire. Sathnam Sanghera’s latest book, Empireland: How Imperialism Has Shaped Modern Britain, is a brilliant commentary on the often painful shared history that impacted large parts of the world. Sanghera’s acclaimed narrative focuses on the importance of accepting Britain’s imperial past in order to understand its present and future. William Dalrymple’s recent release is the Company Quartet, a four-book collection chronicling the extraordinary story of the rise and fall of the East India Company which spans over 200 years of tumultuous colonial history, covert political machinations and bloody resistance. Author and politician Swapan Dasgupta’s latest book is Awakening Bharat Mata: The Political Beliefs of the Indian Right. Together, they speak to academic and author Mukulika Banerjee to understand why the existence of the British Empire is often forgotten in Britain and the importance of coming to terms with a troubled past.

The Covid-19 pandemic has been the largest health and socio-economic crisis of the past century. In a session of conversations and food demos, two extraordinary chefs discuss the impact of the pandemic on their business and cooking style along with the changing eating patterns of the masses. Award-winning food writer and restaurateur  Ravinder Bhogal’s cookbook  Jikoni: Proudly Inauthentic Recipes from an Immigrant Kitchen blends myriad cuisines and a heritage that crosses continents. Celebrated Indian-born British chef and restaurateur Asma Khan of Netflix's Chef's Table is the author of Darjeeling Express. In conversation with Shrabani Basu, they delve into the transforming arena of food and what forms the roots of their kitchen.

 

Navigating through their writing journey and experiences, two extraordinary authors give us a glimpse into their inspirations and process. Booker Prize-shortlisted author Elif Shafak explores the dichotomy and nuances she brings alive with her words. A women's rights activist, an inspirational public intellectual and speaker, her latest book is The Island of Missing Trees. Celebrated author Tahimam Anam’s books include The Bones of Grace and The Start Up Wife. Deftly weaving the personal and the political, Anam’s writing is known to illuminate, challenge and question. Her first novel, A Golden Age, was the Best First Book winner of the 2008 Commonwealth Writers' Prize. Her follow-up novel, The Good Muslim, was nominated for the 2011 Man Asian Literary Prize. Shafak and Anam speak to Bee Rowlatt about their enthralling books, their origins and the powerful symbolism behind each character they have brought to life.

As the international community copes with startling new realities following the stunning collapse of Kabul, a panel explores different aspects of the unravelling. They search for signals as they examine fault lines, socio-political and historical context, and the way forward to provide relief to the ordinary men and women stuck in the crossfire.

 

Classicist and author Edmund Richardson’s latest book, Alexandria: The Quest for the Lost City, takes us on a riveting journey through 19th century India and Afghanistan to unravel the extraordinary exploits of Charles Masson and his discovery of the lost city of Alexandria Beneath the Mountains at Bagram near Kabul. For centuries, Alexandria Beneath the Mountains was a meeting point of East and West. The narrative unfurls the story behind the brilliant East India Company deserter, traveller, archaeologist and spy who rediscovered the city and his path to becoming one of Asia’s most remarkable scholars. In conversation with Taran N. Khan, Richardson explores this tale of espionage, opportunity and discovery.

 

Writer and historian Shrabani Basu’s latest book, The Mystery of the Parsee Lawyer, explores Arthur Conan Doyle’s attempts at proving the innocence of a young lawyer’s wrongful conviction. Son of the first Parsee Vicar in Britain in the early 1900s, George Edalji, and his family, were often subject to racism and discrimination. Following this unexpected friendship, Basu masterfully depicts an eye-opening account of racial injustice in the pre-war era.  In conversation with broadcaster and journalist Georgina Godwin, Basu unravels this bizarre tale of Conan Doyle as a champion of justice and the perils of being ‘foreign’ in a nation built on empire.

 

 

A session with noted chefs and historians as they talk about the roots of Indian spices, evolving cuisine and the future of our cooking habits in a post pandemic world. Weaving together the memory, history and unifying power of food, they evaluate the Indian palate and its rich tapestry of flavours, spices and cultural heritage.

 

A deep dive into the fascinating world of conservation, nature and oceanography with Swati Thiyagarajan as she takes us on a vivid and transformative journey. An Indian conservationist and documentary filmmaker, Thiyagarajan is the author of  Born Wild: Journeys Into the Wild Hearts of India and Africa. Her documentary series, Born Wild, ran for over a decade on a prime time television network. Most recently, she has worked as Associate Producer and Production Manager of the Oscar-winning documentary My Octopus Teacher, featuring her husband Craig Foster and tracing the tender, almost mentor-like relationship between a sea diver and a female octopus, his teacher in the deep. Shot underwater in South Africa, the film is a visual feast that has struck a chord with audiences worldwide. In conversation with Gargi Rawat, Thiyagarajan explores the fragility of life and humanity's connection with nature along with the driving force behind her relentless efforts through the years.

Mathematician Kim Plofker is a leading scholar of the history of  maths and astronomy in Sanskrit and other Indian languages. In conversation with William Dalrymple, Plofker chronicles the development of mathematical techniques and texts in South Asia from antiquity to the early modern period, re-examining the few facts about Indian mathematics that have become common knowledge, such as the Indian origin of Arabic numerals, and sets them in a larger textual and cultural framework. Her work details aspects of the subject that have been largely passed over in the past, including the relationships between Indian mathematics and astronomy, and their cross-fertilisations with Islamic scientific traditions. 

 

Author Moin Mir began writing under the influence of his grandfather, a scholar of Sufism, Omar Khayyam and Mirza Ghalib. He speaks of the varied aspects of Sufi art, its philosophical geometrical symmetry and its mystic musical traditions. Steeped in Sufism, he communicates its spiritual love and understanding and its layered contributions to art, mathematics, mysticism and science. In his latest novel The Lost Fragrance of Infinity, Mir takes us on a  journey from Delhi to Andalusia, capturing  the Soul of Sufi art in all its variations through the life story of a tile maker and restorer.

 

A riveting tribute to feminine might and their powerful connection with Mother Earth. Alice Albinia’s latest work, Cwen, presents us with a matriarchal Eve’s paradise offering a universe where women run all institutions and businesses. As the matriarch of this island mysteriously disappears, the narrative unfolds a telling portrait of a world at the cusp of revolutionary change. In conversation with former Editor-in-Chief of Bloomsbury Alexandra Pringle, Albinia  dives into a tale of female power, potential and reclamation.

 

Archaeologist Cat Jarman’s recent book, River Kings: A New History of Vikings from Scandinavia to the Silk Roads, adds new dimensions to our understanding of the famed Nordic raiders and settlers and their journeys to both East and West At the heart of Jarman's story is a small Carnelian bead from Gujarat found in a Viking mass grave in Derbyshire. This discovery opens up a whole new world of exploration, trade and raids between the east and the west. In conversation with author and Festival Co-Director William Dalrymple, Jarman explores a new way of looking at the Vikings, their eastward travels and its impact on early medieval history.

 

Two powerful writers come together to take us on a journey through the New Testament and the Gospel. Jeet Thayil’s latest book, Names of the Women, reclaims the stories of women from the Bible. Going beyond Mary of Magdala, the intricate narrative unfurls the lives of the women who stood by Jesus Christ. Christos Tsiolkas' stunning new novel, Damascus, follows the events surrounding the birth and establishment of the Christian church. The vivid narrative intricately dissects doubt, faith, tyranny and sacrifice, and remains a powerful testament to spiritual yearning and the human desire to transcend the physical world. In conversation with Supriya Nair, they talk about creating a wholly fresh fictional world out of some of the most familiar scriptures in world history.

Writer, publisher and Festival Director Namita Gokhale speaks of a life in books. 

In a freewheeling conversation with Sanjoy K. Roy, she takes us on a journey from her 1984 debut novel, Paro: Dreams of Passion, to The Himalayan trilogy,  to Jaipur Journals, and The Blind Matriarch which is her 20th book. Gokhale’s work covers multiple genres including fiction, mythology, drama, Himalayan studies and books for young readers. 

A delicious mix of politics, glamour, food and all things rude. Columnist, writer and journalist Vir Sanghvi’s memoir, A Rude Life, takes us on a compelling journey through his formative years,  his time in Oxford, movie and political journalism, television and magazines – and the unforgettable characters he met along the way. Turning his dispassionate gaze upon himself, Sanghvi evaluates the experiences and challenges that have formed one of the most eventful careers in Indian journalism. In conversation with award-winning journalist Namita Bhandare, Sanghvi looks into the personal and the political as well as the world of film and glamour while providing a glimpse into some of his biggest stories.

Raven Leilani's award winning debut, Luster, has been described as a millenial novel. Written in the first person, it carries the ache of youth and has a brutal and incisive eye for racism and racist violence. The intergenerational narrative follows a young girl's attempts at understanding life while navigating relationships, anger and her own hidden potential. In conversation with Catharine Morris, Associate Editor of the Times Literary Supplement, Leilani introduces us to the world of Edie in all her unabashed individuality, sexuality, humour and rage.

 

A session which explores the reality and legacy of the British empire. Sathnam Sanghera’s latest book, Empireland: How Imperialism Has Shaped Modern Britain, is a brilliant commentary on the often painful shared history that impacted large parts of the world. Sanghera’s acclaimed narrative focuses on the importance of accepting Britain’s imperial past in order to understand its present and future. William Dalrymple’s recent release is the Company Quartet, a four-book collection chronicling the extraordinary story of the rise and fall of the East India Company which spans over 200 years of tumultuous colonial history, covert political machinations and bloody resistance. Author and politician Swapan Dasgupta’s latest book is Awakening Bharat Mata: The Political Beliefs of the Indian Right. Together, they speak to academic and author Mukulika Banerjee to understand why the existence of the British Empire is often forgotten in Britain and the importance of coming to terms with a troubled past.

The Covid-19 pandemic has been the largest health and socio-economic crisis of the past century. In a session of conversations and food demos, two extraordinary chefs discuss the impact of the pandemic on their business and cooking style along with the changing eating patterns of the masses. Award-winning food writer and restaurateur  Ravinder Bhogal’s cookbook  Jikoni: Proudly Inauthentic Recipes from an Immigrant Kitchen blends myriad cuisines and a heritage that crosses continents. Celebrated Indian-born British chef and restaurateur Asma Khan of Netflix's Chef's Table is the author of Darjeeling Express. In conversation with Shrabani Basu, they delve into the transforming arena of food and what forms the roots of their kitchen.

 

Navigating through their writing journey and experiences, two extraordinary authors give us a glimpse into their inspirations and process. Booker Prize-shortlisted author Elif Shafak explores the dichotomy and nuances she brings alive with her words. A women's rights activist, an inspirational public intellectual and speaker, her latest book is The Island of Missing Trees. Celebrated author Tahimam Anam’s books include The Bones of Grace and The Start Up Wife. Deftly weaving the personal and the political, Anam’s writing is known to illuminate, challenge and question. Her first novel, A Golden Age, was the Best First Book winner of the 2008 Commonwealth Writers' Prize. Her follow-up novel, The Good Muslim, was nominated for the 2011 Man Asian Literary Prize. Shafak and Anam speak to Bee Rowlatt about their enthralling books, their origins and the powerful symbolism behind each character they have brought to life.