Programme

Program subject to change

Monica Ali’s debut novel, Brick Lane, quickly became an international phenomenon. Love Marriage, the fascinating story of two very different families thrown together by a whirlwind engagement, is her first new book in a decade. An enthralling social comedy, it underscores the worlds of love and marriage, the strains and stories that emerge at the curious intersection of both. In conversation with author Jaishree Mishra, Ali reveals the truth of “who we are and how we love in today’s Britain”.

 

What is India’s future? Naushad Forbes is the co-chairman of Forbes Marshall and has written extensively on innovation in developing countries and higher education in India. In The Struggle and the Promise, Forbes examines critical questions concerning the mobilisation of India’s potential, essential innovations and practices for progress, and the promise of future balance and great leadership in the country. In conversation with author and foreign correspondent John Elliott, Forbes discusses the path to unlocking India’s true potential and claiming the reins of the world by example. 

 

Hindi writer Geetanjali Shree’s acclaimed novel, Ret Samadhi,  the winner of the 2022 International Booker Prize, is a magnificent story of renewal, rediscovery and exploration in the face of grim odds, damning conventions and irrevocable moments in history. It brings the brilliance of contemporary Hindi literature to a wider readership in its nuanced discussion of boundaries - whether in families, between religions and countries, or in conflicting schools of thought. Daisy Rockwell’s exuberant rendering of the novel in English, Tomb of Sand, has garnered worldwide appreciation. Geetanjali Shree; academic, journalist and the award-winning translator of over seventy books, Arunava Sinha; and writer and Festival Co-Director, Namita Gokhale, discuss Ret Samadhi and the larger landscape of translation. 

 

The Amur River forms the highly contested border between Russia and China. It is the most densely fortified frontier on earth and represents the histories of both countries, as well as their unique relationship. Colin Thubron, the laureate of travel writing, follows the dramatic journey of the Amur, from its secret source to an expanse of almost 3,000 miles in his acclaimed book, The Amur River: Between Russia and China. In this astonishing account of an often perilous journey, among diverse peoples, climates and terrain, Thubron reveals the metaphorical depth of the Far East Asian river and an urgent history of global geopolitics. With celebrated author Anthony Sattin, Thubron discusses his masterpiece and an incomparable career in writing. 

Booker Prize-winning writer, Howard Jacobson, illuminates the course of his life, the beginnings “as well as the twists and turns” that led to his becoming a writer, in the candid and poignant memoir, Mother’s Boy: A Writer’s Beginnings. In an exploration of the idea of belonging, being both English and Jewish, through the growing pains of childhood, bittersweet memories and experiences as an adult, Jacobson allows a precious window into the mind, motivations and craft of a writer. Jacobson discusses the journey of understanding oneself and becoming “the writer you were meant to be” with British publishing legend, Alexandra Pringle.

 

The kingdom of Vijayanagara established their capital city at Hampi, located along the banks of the

Tungabhadra river in southern India in the mid-14th century. Nestled amongst the rugged topography of granite boulders and hills, the extensive palace and religious complex was built over 250 square miles. Although Vijayanagara was abandoned in 1565 following the invasion of the Deccan sultanate kingdom, many of civic and residential buildings, alongside the Hindu temples and Islamic tombs, are still extant and continue to be preserved. This archaeological site is now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Archaeological Survey of India Photographic Collections and the modern archives of the Vijayanagara Research Project at the British Library provide a chronological overview of the cultural heritage of this extensive site. An exhibition looking at Hampi will be on display at the British Library’s Front Entrance Hall from September 2022.

 

Simon Sebag Montefiore discusses the links, parallels, and differences between the two dictators - their views of Russia and Ukraine, terror and empire, how they built power and maintained it.

 

Despite shared constitutional heritage and political forms, India’s ‘Eastminster’ democracy has diverged widely from Westminster over the last 75 years. However, recent events such as Brexit, the Covid-19 pandemic and questions of free speech, dissent and civil liberties in both India and the U.K. have revealed a different picture. Baroness Helena Kennedy is a member of the House of Lords Justice and Home Affairs Committee, an expert in human rights law, civil liberties and constitutional issues, and the author of Misjustice: How British Law is Failing Women. Tripurdaman Singh is an academic and the author of Nehru: The Debates that Defined India and Sixteen Stormy Days: The Story of the First Amendment of the Constitution of India. In conversation with Chintan Chandrachud, barrister and the acclaimed author of The Cases That India Forgot and Balanced Constitutionalism: Courts and Legislatures in India and the United Kingdom, Baroness Kennedy and Singh discuss the similar faults and challenges both Eastminster and Westminster are struggling to address.

A session that examines the conflicting notions of self and hybridity.Nigerian-British writer, Irenosen Okojie, and Guyanese-born Canadian writer, Tessa McWatt, come together to discuss the many dimensions of identity in their work. Elusive histories, memory, migration and kaleidoscopic ancestries inform their literary explorations of self and society. Okojie is the author of Butterfly Fish and the AKO Caine prize-winning short-story Grace Jones. McWatt is the author of The Snow Line and memoir Shame on Me: An Anatomy of Race and Belonging. Together with writer and editor of The White Review, Izabella Scott, they explore the conflicts of displacement, belonging, and the roots of their writing.

 

The creative economy is an evolving concept which is based on the interplay between human creativity, knowledge, skills and technology. Creative industries are among the most dynamic sectors in the world and are critical to the sustainable development agenda. They stimulate innovation, entrepreneurship, cultural diversity, and provide opportunities for developing countries to leapfrog into emerging, high-growth areas of the global economy. A distinguished panel explores the trade of creative goods and services, effective practices and unique experiences, and the power of ideas and imagination in efforts towards a sustainable, inclusive future.

Award-winning writer and politician, Shashi Tharoor, is the author of 22 books of fiction and non-fiction. His unerring sense of humour lightens the substance of his work, which includes a powerful indictment of colonialism, a philosophical appreciation of the Hindu religion, and hard-hitting political critiques. The recent Pride, Prejudice & Punditry is a collection of essays and pieces that range from the political to personal. In conversation with author and journalist Pallavi Aiyar, Tharoor discusses his ideas, insights, convictions and the many levels at which he engages with the world.

 

Writer and chef Romy Gill's recent cookbook, On the Himalayan Trail: Recipes and Stories from Kashmir to Ladakh , tells the story of Kashmir and Ladakh's distinctive cuisine, sharing over 80 extraordinary recipes that can be recreated in your own home kitchen. In conversation with author Shrabani Basu, Gill unfurls the heart and soul of Kashmiri and Ladhaki food and cuisine.

 

An illuminating session that ties agrarian values of citizenship and active engagement to the making of a democracy and its formal institutions. Social anthropologist Mukulika Banerjee’s book, Cultivating Democracy: Politics and Citizenship in Agrarian India, presents a remarkable ethnographic study of Indian democracy. Drawing on her long engagement with the micro-politics and day-to-day of two villages in West Bengal, she reveals their impact on the macro-politics of state and nation. Mukulika Banerjee, Rana Dasgupta and Georgina Godwin discuss the roots of cooperation, civility, solidarity and vigilance in agrarian life.

 

Bestselling writer and historian, Simon Sebag Montefiore is among the world’s leading experts in Russian history. His books, The Romanovs, Catherine the Great & Potemkin, Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar and Young Stalin have captured its epic proportions - the rise and revolutionary fall of the Romanovs, the intimate lives of tsars and tsarinas, their ideas of empire, and changing political figures and systems of government. Montefiore has argued that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is “a gamble motivated by a desire to restore Russian glory”, a vision embedded in its sweeping past. In conversation with author and academic, Tripurdaman Singh, Montefiore examines Russia’s present ambitions through the lens of a layered history.

 

A session that examines the expression of the personal and the universal in Indian bhakti poetry and by the Spanish mystic, Saint John of the Cross. The dialogue between Indian devotional bhakti poets and the sixteenth century Spanish mystic reveals the universality of poetry as a means for devotees, on culturally diverse spiritual journeys, to ‘partake’ with the Absolute.
A recitation of poems by Akkamahadevi (12th century), Ksetrayya (17th century), and St. John of the Cross (16th century), will illuminate the mysterious ties between the physical and the incommensurable, the word and silence, and the universal expressions of faith and longing.

 

 

Sarfraz Manzoor examines the roots of the social and cultural divisions that plague Britain today - at a session based on his crucial work, They: What Muslims and Non-Muslims Get Wrong About Each Other. An acclaimed writer, journalist and broadcaster, Manzoor presents a multidisciplinary and profoundly personal study of the relationship between Muslims and Non-Muslims in modern Britain. In conversation with journalist and television news presenter, George Alagiah, he reveals the cause of “the chasm of mutual distrust” and offers hopeful visions of a time when it will be overcome.

 

Award-winning broadcaster, Anita Rani, is one of the most recognisable faces on British television. She shares priceless lessons on life, positivity, and ambition in her book, The Right Sort of Girl. Humorous, honest and inspiring, it is the coming-of-age story of a woman “trying to navigate her Indian world at home and the British world outside her front door”. In conversation with writer Nikita Gill, Rani reveals the process of chronicling her remarkable experiences, how they helped her find her voice and become a true powerhouse.

In The Road Home, two writers lead us to their roots, in Goa and Kerala. Selma Carvalho’s debut novel, Sisterhood of Swans, depicts the troubled coming of age of a second-generation Indian immigrant in London. Carvalho is the author of Baker Butcher Doctor Diplomat: Goan Pioneers of East AfricaA Railway Runs Through: Goans of British East Africa and Into the Diaspora Wilderness. Her writing explores themes of migration, feminism, morality and the subject of the Goan diaspora. Journalist and writer, Anjana Menon, flew home to Thrissur, Kerala, as the Covid-19 crisis loomed large. She intended to be home only for a month or two but stayed seven and in this time her book Onam in A Nightie: Stories from a Kerala Quarantine was born, composed of episodes of everyday life. Carvalho and Menon discuss the process of capturing Goa and Kerala, the sanctuary and symbolism of home, with  author Jaishree Misra.

In Rebels against the Raj: Western Fighters for India’s Freedom, historian and writer, Ramachandra Guha, chronicles the unexplored narratives of seven people who fought for the end of imperial rule between the late 19th and early 20th century. Motivated by idealism and genuine sacrifice, each connected to Gandhi and representing diverse schools of thought, they risked fatal punishment for their activism, even as they made invaluable contributions to India's Independence struggle. In conversation with writer, historian and Festival Co-Director, William Dalrymple, Guha unveils these remarkable figures of India's history and their profound impact in the fields of journalism, social reform, education and environmentalism. 

 

Foremothers are the crucible of our worlds.
Award-winning writer and Festival Co-Director Namita Gokhale’s recent novel, The Blind Matriarch, unravels the facets of an Indian joint family, its history and the inner lives of members, against the indistinct, yet omnipresent gaze of the eponymous matriarch who carries the torch of many generations and destinies. Writer and journalist Bee Rowlatt’s acclaimed biography, In Search of Mary, follows an extraordinary trail through Norway set over 200 years ago by the legendary writer, philosopher and advocate for the rights of women, Mary Wollstonecraft. Celebrated novelist Gwendoline Riley’s gripping work, My Phantoms, explores dysfunctional familial bonds, stories of separation, resentment, and phantoms of the past that haunt a strained mother-daughter relationship. A session that looks across generations, at history, the pages of fiction and lived experience.

 

The evolving role of new media is the subject of much study, scrutiny and self examination.
At a time when freedom of reach has become as important as freedom of speech, a diverse panel explores the role and responsibilities of the media and the new communications in our times.

 

In the revelatory historical indictment of the afterlife of slavery in the Atlantic world, Black Ghost of Empire: The Long Death of Slavery and the Failure of Emanicpation, Kris Manjapra unearths the disturbing truth of the Age of Emancipations (1780 - 1880), the neglected yet crucial roles of Black aboloitonists and rebellions, and the catacombs of a glossed history that affect the world even today. An acclaimed academic and writer, Manjapra explores the intersection of transnational history and the critical study of race and colonialism. In conversation with writer and historian, Yasmin Khan, Manjapra unravels the supposed death of slavery and modern paradigms.

 

The Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971 birthed a vibrant new democracy.
50 years after the momentous event, a panel which examines the cultural, social and historical dynamics that have formed the roots of this nation and their vision of its future.British-Bangaldeshi writer, actor and filmmaker, Leesa Gazi’s father was a freedom fighter. Her documentary award-winning documentary film, Rising Silence, is about the women that were sexually assaulted during the Liberation War and the novel Hellfire is an uncomprosing critique of patriarchal norms and generational cycles in Bangladesh.  Bangladeshi-British economist and photographer, Simone Sultana, has worked with organisations that have had instrumental impact on Bangladesh’s extraordinary social and economic development over these five decades and continues to work in the very sensitive arena of worker safety in the global garment supply chain. Her family too were deeply involved with the liberation movement - moving to London to escape persecution in 1971.
In conversation with prolific writer, translator and academic, Arunava Sinha, they take a deep look at the past, present and future of Bangladesh.

 

 

Travel writing is among the most ancient forms of literature. It allows invaluable social, cultural and political insight. It can signify personal journeys and growth, the intricate histories of places and peoples, and even the power and limits of the mind. Pallavi Aiyar, Colin Thubron, Anthony Sattin, Tharik Hussain and Monisha Rajesh discuss their work, inspirations and choice genre with writer, historian and Festival Co-Director, William Dalrymple. 

 

The Nawab Nazim was born into one of the most powerful royal families in India’s history, with a kingdom that ranged from the great Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal. Seen as a threat by British authorities, he was forced to abdicate in 1880, marking a significant historical turn and changed fortunes for his secret English family. Lyn Innes tells the bitter-sweet history of her great-grandfather and ancestors who journeyed from royalty to relative anonymity in the captivating book, The Last Prince of Bengal: A Family's Journey from an Indian Palace to the Australian Outback. In conversation with author, journalist and historian, Shrabani Basu, Innes discusses the intimate story of a family connected to sweeping events in Indian, British and Australian history. 

“My name is Charles Sobhraj, you might have heard of me”, said the notorious ‘bikini killer’ in 1997 to writer and television mogul, Farrukh Dhondy. Over the next years, Dhondy made the serial killer’s acquaintance, tracked his movements across the world, his degraded and violent life, and the most sensational series of events. His recent book, Hawk and Hyena: What Really Happened to the Serpent, pieces together the radical true story of Charles Sobhraj. In conversation with Sanjoy K. Roy, Dhondy discusses the process of depicting a nearly unimaginable narrative, his motivations as a storyteller, and the intersections of life, death, murder, morality and punishment. 

 

A session that 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 painful history large parts of the world share. Sanghera’s narrative focuses on the importance of accepting Britain’s imperial past in order to understand its present and future.​ ​​In conversation with academic and writer, Yasmin Khan, Sanghera explores why the existence of the British Empire is often 'forgotten' in Modern Britain and underscores the importance of confronting a deeply troubled past. 

 

Nomadic peoples are often relegated to the margins of historical study. In the groundbreaking book, Nomads: The Wanderers Who Shaped Our World, award-winning journalist and writer, Anthony Sattin, redirects ideas of civilisation and the course of history to the ‘outsiders’. In this saga of mobile cultures and empires that espoused plurality, tolerance, the freedom of conscience and movement, the arts and sciences, and unyielding respect for the natural world, he ties global history and contemporary iterations to the power of nomadism. In conversation with celebrated travel writer and novelist, Colin Thubron, Sattin discusses his remarkable work and transformative ideas of the past and present.  

 

Three British-Asian writers come together to discuss the innards of detective fiction and crime writing. Bestselling crime writer Vaseem Khan is the author of the Mumbai-set Baby Ganesh Agency series and the CWA Historical Dagger-winning Malabar House novels set in 1950s Bombay and featuring India's first female police detective. Sonia Faleiro’s book of true crime, The Good Girls: An Ordinary Killing, longlisted for the 2022 ALCS Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction, examines the mysterious deaths of two teenage girls, underpinned by caste and gender violence. Author, journalist and historian, Shrabani Basu’s latest book, The Mystery of the Parsee Lawyer: Arthur Conan Doyle, George Edalji and the Case of the Foreigner in the English Village is a fascinating account of how Sir Arthur Conan Doyle personally investigated the case of a falsely implicated Indian lawyer. A session that examines how society and its faultlines find a voice in noir writing; in conversation with celebrated writer, Nikesh Shukla.

 

 

William Dalrymple’s multi-award-winning histories, The Anarchy, White Mughals, Return of a King and The Last Mughal, comprise the essential collection, The Company Quartet. A culmination of two decades of meticulous research and masterful narration, The Company Quartet tells a comprehensive story of British Imperialism and the conquest of India. How did a dangerously unregulated private company come to be the first global corporate power? In conversation with bestselling writer and politician, Shashi Tharoor, Dalrymple unravels two hundred years of colonial history, covert political machinations and bloody resistance - the rise and fall of the East India Company. 

 

Join author, translator and raconteur Saif Mahmood in a conversation with translator and academic Mohini Gupta, on a journey traversing the cultural landscape of Sufi poetry in the subcontinent. This session will bring out the essence of Sufi poetry and thought through readings and discussions, and invite the audience to appreciate the inherent beauty and complexities of the genre.

 

Nikesh Shukla’s writing focuses on race, racism, identity and immigration. Author of the acclaimed Brown Baby: A Memoir of Race, Family and Home and the novels Coconut Unlimited and Meatspace, he shares his wealth of experience as a writer, how to tell your story in your own unique narrative voice, in the empowering guide Your Story Matters: Find Your Voice, Sharpen Your Skills, Tell Your Story. Shukla is one of the most passionate voices on issues of diversity and inclusion in all aspects of the arts. In conversation with writer Nikita Gill, he shares essential advice and discusses his own life and inspirations, groundbreaking career, the power of stories and the chance to tell them. 

 

Legendary musician Remo Fernandes is an icon of his generation
His personal and professional triumphs and challenges come together in the kaleidoscopic book, Remo: The Autobiography of Remo Fernandes. In this "story of brave dreams and musical passions", Remo takes us along an exhilarating journey, from distributing home-produced albums on a scooter in the 80s to becoming a national sensation.
In conversation with Sanjoy K. Roy, Remo discusses his deeply compelling, honest and vivid memoir, and a life in pursuit of his greatest loves - music, art, writing and home, Goa.  

Monica Ali’s debut novel, Brick Lane, quickly became an international phenomenon. Love Marriage, the fascinating story of two very different families thrown together by a whirlwind engagement, is her first new book in a decade. An enthralling social comedy, it underscores the worlds of love and marriage, the strains and stories that emerge at the curious intersection of both. In conversation with author Jaishree Mishra, Ali reveals the truth of “who we are and how we love in today’s Britain”.

 

What is India’s future? Naushad Forbes is the co-chairman of Forbes Marshall and has written extensively on innovation in developing countries and higher education in India. In The Struggle and the Promise, Forbes examines critical questions concerning the mobilisation of India’s potential, essential innovations and practices for progress, and the promise of future balance and great leadership in the country. In conversation with author and foreign correspondent John Elliott, Forbes discusses the path to unlocking India’s true potential and claiming the reins of the world by example. 

 

Hindi writer Geetanjali Shree’s acclaimed novel, Ret Samadhi,  the winner of the 2022 International Booker Prize, is a magnificent story of renewal, rediscovery and exploration in the face of grim odds, damning conventions and irrevocable moments in history. It brings the brilliance of contemporary Hindi literature to a wider readership in its nuanced discussion of boundaries - whether in families, between religions and countries, or in conflicting schools of thought. Daisy Rockwell’s exuberant rendering of the novel in English, Tomb of Sand, has garnered worldwide appreciation. Geetanjali Shree; academic, journalist and the award-winning translator of over seventy books, Arunava Sinha; and writer and Festival Co-Director, Namita Gokhale, discuss Ret Samadhi and the larger landscape of translation. 

 

The Amur River forms the highly contested border between Russia and China. It is the most densely fortified frontier on earth and represents the histories of both countries, as well as their unique relationship. Colin Thubron, the laureate of travel writing, follows the dramatic journey of the Amur, from its secret source to an expanse of almost 3,000 miles in his acclaimed book, The Amur River: Between Russia and China. In this astonishing account of an often perilous journey, among diverse peoples, climates and terrain, Thubron reveals the metaphorical depth of the Far East Asian river and an urgent history of global geopolitics. With celebrated author Anthony Sattin, Thubron discusses his masterpiece and an incomparable career in writing. 

Booker Prize-winning writer, Howard Jacobson, illuminates the course of his life, the beginnings “as well as the twists and turns” that led to his becoming a writer, in the candid and poignant memoir, Mother’s Boy: A Writer’s Beginnings. In an exploration of the idea of belonging, being both English and Jewish, through the growing pains of childhood, bittersweet memories and experiences as an adult, Jacobson allows a precious window into the mind, motivations and craft of a writer. Jacobson discusses the journey of understanding oneself and becoming “the writer you were meant to be” with British publishing legend, Alexandra Pringle.

 

The kingdom of Vijayanagara established their capital city at Hampi, located along the banks of the

Tungabhadra river in southern India in the mid-14th century. Nestled amongst the rugged topography of granite boulders and hills, the extensive palace and religious complex was built over 250 square miles. Although Vijayanagara was abandoned in 1565 following the invasion of the Deccan sultanate kingdom, many of civic and residential buildings, alongside the Hindu temples and Islamic tombs, are still extant and continue to be preserved. This archaeological site is now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Archaeological Survey of India Photographic Collections and the modern archives of the Vijayanagara Research Project at the British Library provide a chronological overview of the cultural heritage of this extensive site. An exhibition looking at Hampi will be on display at the British Library’s Front Entrance Hall from September 2022.

 

Simon Sebag Montefiore discusses the links, parallels, and differences between the two dictators - their views of Russia and Ukraine, terror and empire, how they built power and maintained it.

 

Despite shared constitutional heritage and political forms, India’s ‘Eastminster’ democracy has diverged widely from Westminster over the last 75 years. However, recent events such as Brexit, the Covid-19 pandemic and questions of free speech, dissent and civil liberties in both India and the U.K. have revealed a different picture. Baroness Helena Kennedy is a member of the House of Lords Justice and Home Affairs Committee, an expert in human rights law, civil liberties and constitutional issues, and the author of Misjustice: How British Law is Failing Women. Tripurdaman Singh is an academic and the author of Nehru: The Debates that Defined India and Sixteen Stormy Days: The Story of the First Amendment of the Constitution of India. In conversation with Chintan Chandrachud, barrister and the acclaimed author of The Cases That India Forgot and Balanced Constitutionalism: Courts and Legislatures in India and the United Kingdom, Baroness Kennedy and Singh discuss the similar faults and challenges both Eastminster and Westminster are struggling to address.

A session that examines the conflicting notions of self and hybridity.Nigerian-British writer, Irenosen Okojie, and Guyanese-born Canadian writer, Tessa McWatt, come together to discuss the many dimensions of identity in their work. Elusive histories, memory, migration and kaleidoscopic ancestries inform their literary explorations of self and society. Okojie is the author of Butterfly Fish and the AKO Caine prize-winning short-story Grace Jones. McWatt is the author of The Snow Line and memoir Shame on Me: An Anatomy of Race and Belonging. Together with writer and editor of The White Review, Izabella Scott, they explore the conflicts of displacement, belonging, and the roots of their writing.

 

The creative economy is an evolving concept which is based on the interplay between human creativity, knowledge, skills and technology. Creative industries are among the most dynamic sectors in the world and are critical to the sustainable development agenda. They stimulate innovation, entrepreneurship, cultural diversity, and provide opportunities for developing countries to leapfrog into emerging, high-growth areas of the global economy. A distinguished panel explores the trade of creative goods and services, effective practices and unique experiences, and the power of ideas and imagination in efforts towards a sustainable, inclusive future.

Award-winning writer and politician, Shashi Tharoor, is the author of 22 books of fiction and non-fiction. His unerring sense of humour lightens the substance of his work, which includes a powerful indictment of colonialism, a philosophical appreciation of the Hindu religion, and hard-hitting political critiques. The recent Pride, Prejudice & Punditry is a collection of essays and pieces that range from the political to personal. In conversation with author and journalist Pallavi Aiyar, Tharoor discusses his ideas, insights, convictions and the many levels at which he engages with the world.

 

Writer and chef Romy Gill's recent cookbook, On the Himalayan Trail: Recipes and Stories from Kashmir to Ladakh , tells the story of Kashmir and Ladakh's distinctive cuisine, sharing over 80 extraordinary recipes that can be recreated in your own home kitchen. In conversation with author Shrabani Basu, Gill unfurls the heart and soul of Kashmiri and Ladhaki food and cuisine.

 

An illuminating session that ties agrarian values of citizenship and active engagement to the making of a democracy and its formal institutions. Social anthropologist Mukulika Banerjee’s book, Cultivating Democracy: Politics and Citizenship in Agrarian India, presents a remarkable ethnographic study of Indian democracy. Drawing on her long engagement with the micro-politics and day-to-day of two villages in West Bengal, she reveals their impact on the macro-politics of state and nation. Mukulika Banerjee, Rana Dasgupta and Georgina Godwin discuss the roots of cooperation, civility, solidarity and vigilance in agrarian life.

 

Bestselling writer and historian, Simon Sebag Montefiore is among the world’s leading experts in Russian history. His books, The Romanovs, Catherine the Great & Potemkin, Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar and Young Stalin have captured its epic proportions - the rise and revolutionary fall of the Romanovs, the intimate lives of tsars and tsarinas, their ideas of empire, and changing political figures and systems of government. Montefiore has argued that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is “a gamble motivated by a desire to restore Russian glory”, a vision embedded in its sweeping past. In conversation with author and academic, Tripurdaman Singh, Montefiore examines Russia’s present ambitions through the lens of a layered history.

 

A session that examines the expression of the personal and the universal in Indian bhakti poetry and by the Spanish mystic, Saint John of the Cross. The dialogue between Indian devotional bhakti poets and the sixteenth century Spanish mystic reveals the universality of poetry as a means for devotees, on culturally diverse spiritual journeys, to ‘partake’ with the Absolute.
A recitation of poems by Akkamahadevi (12th century), Ksetrayya (17th century), and St. John of the Cross (16th century), will illuminate the mysterious ties between the physical and the incommensurable, the word and silence, and the universal expressions of faith and longing.

 

 

Sarfraz Manzoor examines the roots of the social and cultural divisions that plague Britain today - at a session based on his crucial work, They: What Muslims and Non-Muslims Get Wrong About Each Other. An acclaimed writer, journalist and broadcaster, Manzoor presents a multidisciplinary and profoundly personal study of the relationship between Muslims and Non-Muslims in modern Britain. In conversation with journalist and television news presenter, George Alagiah, he reveals the cause of “the chasm of mutual distrust” and offers hopeful visions of a time when it will be overcome.

 

Award-winning broadcaster, Anita Rani, is one of the most recognisable faces on British television. She shares priceless lessons on life, positivity, and ambition in her book, The Right Sort of Girl. Humorous, honest and inspiring, it is the coming-of-age story of a woman “trying to navigate her Indian world at home and the British world outside her front door”. In conversation with writer Nikita Gill, Rani reveals the process of chronicling her remarkable experiences, how they helped her find her voice and become a true powerhouse.

In The Road Home, two writers lead us to their roots, in Goa and Kerala. Selma Carvalho’s debut novel, Sisterhood of Swans, depicts the troubled coming of age of a second-generation Indian immigrant in London. Carvalho is the author of Baker Butcher Doctor Diplomat: Goan Pioneers of East AfricaA Railway Runs Through: Goans of British East Africa and Into the Diaspora Wilderness. Her writing explores themes of migration, feminism, morality and the subject of the Goan diaspora. Journalist and writer, Anjana Menon, flew home to Thrissur, Kerala, as the Covid-19 crisis loomed large. She intended to be home only for a month or two but stayed seven and in this time her book Onam in A Nightie: Stories from a Kerala Quarantine was born, composed of episodes of everyday life. Carvalho and Menon discuss the process of capturing Goa and Kerala, the sanctuary and symbolism of home, with  author Jaishree Misra.

In Rebels against the Raj: Western Fighters for India’s Freedom, historian and writer, Ramachandra Guha, chronicles the unexplored narratives of seven people who fought for the end of imperial rule between the late 19th and early 20th century. Motivated by idealism and genuine sacrifice, each connected to Gandhi and representing diverse schools of thought, they risked fatal punishment for their activism, even as they made invaluable contributions to India's Independence struggle. In conversation with writer, historian and Festival Co-Director, William Dalrymple, Guha unveils these remarkable figures of India's history and their profound impact in the fields of journalism, social reform, education and environmentalism. 

 

Foremothers are the crucible of our worlds.
Award-winning writer and Festival Co-Director Namita Gokhale’s recent novel, The Blind Matriarch, unravels the facets of an Indian joint family, its history and the inner lives of members, against the indistinct, yet omnipresent gaze of the eponymous matriarch who carries the torch of many generations and destinies. Writer and journalist Bee Rowlatt’s acclaimed biography, In Search of Mary, follows an extraordinary trail through Norway set over 200 years ago by the legendary writer, philosopher and advocate for the rights of women, Mary Wollstonecraft. Celebrated novelist Gwendoline Riley’s gripping work, My Phantoms, explores dysfunctional familial bonds, stories of separation, resentment, and phantoms of the past that haunt a strained mother-daughter relationship. A session that looks across generations, at history, the pages of fiction and lived experience.

 

The evolving role of new media is the subject of much study, scrutiny and self examination.
At a time when freedom of reach has become as important as freedom of speech, a diverse panel explores the role and responsibilities of the media and the new communications in our times.

 

In the revelatory historical indictment of the afterlife of slavery in the Atlantic world, Black Ghost of Empire: The Long Death of Slavery and the Failure of Emanicpation, Kris Manjapra unearths the disturbing truth of the Age of Emancipations (1780 - 1880), the neglected yet crucial roles of Black aboloitonists and rebellions, and the catacombs of a glossed history that affect the world even today. An acclaimed academic and writer, Manjapra explores the intersection of transnational history and the critical study of race and colonialism. In conversation with writer and historian, Yasmin Khan, Manjapra unravels the supposed death of slavery and modern paradigms.

 

The Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971 birthed a vibrant new democracy.
50 years after the momentous event, a panel which examines the cultural, social and historical dynamics that have formed the roots of this nation and their vision of its future.British-Bangaldeshi writer, actor and filmmaker, Leesa Gazi’s father was a freedom fighter. Her documentary award-winning documentary film, Rising Silence, is about the women that were sexually assaulted during the Liberation War and the novel Hellfire is an uncomprosing critique of patriarchal norms and generational cycles in Bangladesh.  Bangladeshi-British economist and photographer, Simone Sultana, has worked with organisations that have had instrumental impact on Bangladesh’s extraordinary social and economic development over these five decades and continues to work in the very sensitive arena of worker safety in the global garment supply chain. Her family too were deeply involved with the liberation movement - moving to London to escape persecution in 1971.
In conversation with prolific writer, translator and academic, Arunava Sinha, they take a deep look at the past, present and future of Bangladesh.

 

 

Travel writing is among the most ancient forms of literature. It allows invaluable social, cultural and political insight. It can signify personal journeys and growth, the intricate histories of places and peoples, and even the power and limits of the mind. Pallavi Aiyar, Colin Thubron, Anthony Sattin, Tharik Hussain and Monisha Rajesh discuss their work, inspirations and choice genre with writer, historian and Festival Co-Director, William Dalrymple. 

 

The Nawab Nazim was born into one of the most powerful royal families in India’s history, with a kingdom that ranged from the great Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal. Seen as a threat by British authorities, he was forced to abdicate in 1880, marking a significant historical turn and changed fortunes for his secret English family. Lyn Innes tells the bitter-sweet history of her great-grandfather and ancestors who journeyed from royalty to relative anonymity in the captivating book, The Last Prince of Bengal: A Family's Journey from an Indian Palace to the Australian Outback. In conversation with author, journalist and historian, Shrabani Basu, Innes discusses the intimate story of a family connected to sweeping events in Indian, British and Australian history. 

“My name is Charles Sobhraj, you might have heard of me”, said the notorious ‘bikini killer’ in 1997 to writer and television mogul, Farrukh Dhondy. Over the next years, Dhondy made the serial killer’s acquaintance, tracked his movements across the world, his degraded and violent life, and the most sensational series of events. His recent book, Hawk and Hyena: What Really Happened to the Serpent, pieces together the radical true story of Charles Sobhraj. In conversation with Sanjoy K. Roy, Dhondy discusses the process of depicting a nearly unimaginable narrative, his motivations as a storyteller, and the intersections of life, death, murder, morality and punishment. 

 

A session that 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 painful history large parts of the world share. Sanghera’s narrative focuses on the importance of accepting Britain’s imperial past in order to understand its present and future.​ ​​In conversation with academic and writer, Yasmin Khan, Sanghera explores why the existence of the British Empire is often 'forgotten' in Modern Britain and underscores the importance of confronting a deeply troubled past. 

 

Nomadic peoples are often relegated to the margins of historical study. In the groundbreaking book, Nomads: The Wanderers Who Shaped Our World, award-winning journalist and writer, Anthony Sattin, redirects ideas of civilisation and the course of history to the ‘outsiders’. In this saga of mobile cultures and empires that espoused plurality, tolerance, the freedom of conscience and movement, the arts and sciences, and unyielding respect for the natural world, he ties global history and contemporary iterations to the power of nomadism. In conversation with celebrated travel writer and novelist, Colin Thubron, Sattin discusses his remarkable work and transformative ideas of the past and present.  

 

Three British-Asian writers come together to discuss the innards of detective fiction and crime writing. Bestselling crime writer Vaseem Khan is the author of the Mumbai-set Baby Ganesh Agency series and the CWA Historical Dagger-winning Malabar House novels set in 1950s Bombay and featuring India's first female police detective. Sonia Faleiro’s book of true crime, The Good Girls: An Ordinary Killing, longlisted for the 2022 ALCS Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction, examines the mysterious deaths of two teenage girls, underpinned by caste and gender violence. Author, journalist and historian, Shrabani Basu’s latest book, The Mystery of the Parsee Lawyer: Arthur Conan Doyle, George Edalji and the Case of the Foreigner in the English Village is a fascinating account of how Sir Arthur Conan Doyle personally investigated the case of a falsely implicated Indian lawyer. A session that examines how society and its faultlines find a voice in noir writing; in conversation with celebrated writer, Nikesh Shukla.

 

 

William Dalrymple’s multi-award-winning histories, The Anarchy, White Mughals, Return of a King and The Last Mughal, comprise the essential collection, The Company Quartet. A culmination of two decades of meticulous research and masterful narration, The Company Quartet tells a comprehensive story of British Imperialism and the conquest of India. How did a dangerously unregulated private company come to be the first global corporate power? In conversation with bestselling writer and politician, Shashi Tharoor, Dalrymple unravels two hundred years of colonial history, covert political machinations and bloody resistance - the rise and fall of the East India Company. 

 

Join author, translator and raconteur Saif Mahmood in a conversation with translator and academic Mohini Gupta, on a journey traversing the cultural landscape of Sufi poetry in the subcontinent. This session will bring out the essence of Sufi poetry and thought through readings and discussions, and invite the audience to appreciate the inherent beauty and complexities of the genre.

 

Nikesh Shukla’s writing focuses on race, racism, identity and immigration. Author of the acclaimed Brown Baby: A Memoir of Race, Family and Home and the novels Coconut Unlimited and Meatspace, he shares his wealth of experience as a writer, how to tell your story in your own unique narrative voice, in the empowering guide Your Story Matters: Find Your Voice, Sharpen Your Skills, Tell Your Story. Shukla is one of the most passionate voices on issues of diversity and inclusion in all aspects of the arts. In conversation with writer Nikita Gill, he shares essential advice and discusses his own life and inspirations, groundbreaking career, the power of stories and the chance to tell them. 

 

Legendary musician Remo Fernandes is an icon of his generation
His personal and professional triumphs and challenges come together in the kaleidoscopic book, Remo: The Autobiography of Remo Fernandes. In this "story of brave dreams and musical passions", Remo takes us along an exhilarating journey, from distributing home-produced albums on a scooter in the 80s to becoming a national sensation.
In conversation with Sanjoy K. Roy, Remo discusses his deeply compelling, honest and vivid memoir, and a life in pursuit of his greatest loves - music, art, writing and home, Goa.