The stunning Fermenting Cellar will be transformed to host the Opening Night Gala Reception of the inaugural JLF Toronto. Enjoy cocktails, curated food stations including Distillery Historic District chefs, Rick’s Good Eats, Gelato Fresco, Chai Hai? and more….

At a time when women are increasingly reclaiming their narratives, Vanessa R. Sasson and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni resurrect the stories of Yasodhara, the wife of the Gautam Buddha, the father of Buddhism, and Sita, female protagonist of the ancient Indian epic The Ramayana. Often relegated to side notes, they voice their joys and sorrows, agonies and triumphs, heartbreaks and resilience in Sasson’s debut novel Yasodhara as well as Divakaruni’s The Forest of Enchantments. Sasson is a Professor of Religious Studies in the Liberal and Creative Arts and Humanities Department at Marianopolis College. Divakaruni is an award-winning writer, activist, and teacher at the writing program at the University of Houston. In a conversation with author and educator Anubha Mehta, who’s debut novel Peacock in the Snow, has explored themes of migration, resilience and the emancipation of the feminine spirit, they speak of their books and their beliefs.

Toronto-based author and member of the Order of Canada, MG Vassanji, often writes on themes of migration, diaspora, citizenship, gender and ethnicity. His new book A Delhi Obsession follows the seemingly impossible relationship between a westernised agnostic of Muslim origin and a modern Hindu woman. Set in Delhi’s streets, monuments and ruins against the backdrop of communal tensions and memories of the partition of the Indian subcontinent, the novel unravels an unexpected story of passion, love and faith. MG Vassanji is the author of seven novels, two collections of short stories and is twice winner of the Canada’s Giller Prize for fiction. In conversation with Meenakshi Alimchandani, he discusses his life and work.

Call Me by Your Name is the story of a sudden and powerful romance that blossoms between an adolescent boy and a summer guest at his parents' cliff-side mansion on the Italian Riviera. What grows from it is a romance of scarcely six weeks' duration but an experience that marks them both for a lifetime. For what the two discover on the Riviera, and during a sultry evening in Rome, is the one thing both already fear they may never truly find again: total intimacy.

The psychological maneuvers that accompany attraction have seldom been more shrewdly captured than in André Aciman's unsentimental but heartrending elegy to human passion. Aciman talks about the making of the novel and his feelings about the film adaptation with author and academic Amitava Kumar.

Sharad Paul is a medical doctor, scientist , social entrepreneur and storyteller. In a riveting session, he tells us how to take charge of our health by understanding the connection between our evolutionary past and our future wellbeing. Presenting a compelling blend of medical mysteries, patient stories and science, Dr Paul explains his approach to wellness, memory retention and overall longevity. 


We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next to find ourselves…”

Pico Iyer, British-born essayist and novelist of Indian origin, leads a peripatetic life between a Benedictine hermitage in California, Nara in Japan and international airports around the world. His new book Autumn Light is a far-reaching exploration of Japanese history and culture as well as a moving meditation on impermanence, mortality, and grief. In conversation with writer and curator Devyani Saltzman, he speaks about his life, beliefs, and writing.

Where do democratic principles come from and how are they renewed? Democracy requires constitutions and electoral systems but societal and cultural values are as important in determining a collective vision of the common good. A session that looks at the norms and values of stable democratic politics across cultures and continents. David Moscrop is a political theorist and author of Too Dumb for Democracy? Why We Make Bad Political Decisions and How We Can Make Better Ones. Navin Chawla is the former Chief Election Commissioner of India and author of several books, including Every Vote Counts. Writer and broadcaster Daniel Lak served as the Canada correspondent for Al Jazeera and covered the Indian subcontinent for the BBC for nearly 20 years. Together, they discuss various aspects of democracy, its triumphs and discontents.

An impassioned session about the contemporary issues faced by Indigenous peoples, First Nations, and immigrants that looks at the sense of dislocation and despair experienced by communities who feel cheated of their rights. Suketu Mehta is the author of the recent This Land Is Their Land: An Impassioned Argument About Immigration and Its Discontents. Amitava Kumar is the author of the award-winning Immigrant, Montana. Anosh Irani is the author of Translated from the Gibberish. Gwen Benaway is a poet and author of Passage. Weaving fact and fiction, the writers speak of dispossession, global immigration, and the search for self.

In John Ralston Saul's The Comeback, he argues that the return to the forefront of Indigenous peoples, including their languages and philosophies, is central to how all of our societies could handle today's crises. Yes, if we look at virtually every country which emerged from European empires - and that includes every one of us in the Americas - there are still so many things that are deeply wrong. There is still so much work to be done on reconciliation and restitution, to say nothing of the absence of justice. But the contributions Indigenous peoples are already making, and can increasingly make, must not be sidelined or forgottenLee Maracle is an award-winning aboriginal poet, novelist and performance storyteller, whose most recent book, My Conversations with Canadians, presents a re-imagining of the future of Canada. 

Travel writing is one of the most ancient forms of literature but is it losing its relevance in the age of globalization, travel technology, and space cruises? Celebrated travel writer Pico Iyer, memoirist and novelist André Aciman, and author Suketu Mehta discuss the genre with historian and Festival co-Director William Dalrymple and read from their work.

A session that examines the performative arts, theatrical narratives and the craft of storytelling. Indo-Canadian playwright and author Anosh Irani has written several acclaimed novels, including The Cripple and his Talisman, The Parcel and, most recently, Translated from the Gibberish. His play ‘Bombay Black’ won five Dora Mavor Moore Awards and his latest play, The Men in White received a Jessie Award nomination for Outstanding Original Script. In conversation with Sanjoy K. Roy, producer of the Jaipur Literature Festival, he discusses theatre, literary fiction and the spaces in between.

Diplomat Vikas Swarup’s first novel Q&A went on to become the runaway hit Slumdog Millionaire that won eight Academy Awards in 2009. The author of several other works of fiction, he is currently the Indian High Commissioner to Canada. In conversation with novelist Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Swarup speaks about his books, his life and learnings, and his travels during his tenure as an Indian diplomat.


In a world torn apart by discord, Izzeldin Abuelaish attempts a leap of faith through his writing. Abuelaish, a Harvard-trained Palestinian doctor, whose three daughters were killed during the Israeli incursion into Gaza, still advocates for reconciliation between Israel and Palestine in his book I Shall Not Hate. In a moving and inspirational session, Abuelaish speaks on the way forward in conversation with Daniel Lak.

In August 1765 the East India Company defeated the young Mughal emperor and forced him to set up in his richest provinces a new administration run by English merchants who collected taxes through means of a ruthless private army – what we would now call an act of involuntary privatisation.


The East India Company’s founding charter authorised 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. In less than half a century it had trained up a security force of around 200,000 men – twice the size of the British army – and had subdued an entire subcontinent, conquering first Bengal and finally, in 1803, the Mughal capital of Delhi itself. The Company’s reach stretched until almost all of India south of the Himalayas was effectively ruled from a boardroom in London. 


The Anarchy tells the remarkable story of how one of the world’s most magnificent empires disintegrated and came to be replaced by a dangerously unregulated private company, based thousands of miles overseas in one small office, five windows wide, and answerable only to its distant shareholders. In his most ambitious and riveting book to date, William Dalrymple tells the story of the East India Company as it has never been told before, unfolding a timely cautionary tale of the first global corporate power.


Writer and translator Paulo Lemos Horta explores the cultural and literary history of the Arabian Nights and of the travellers, translators and storytellers who gave the world these unforgettabletales. Horta’s most recent book, Aladdin: A New Translation, is an elegant and eminently readable edition of one of the best-loved folktales of all time. He is also the author of the illuminating Marvellous Thieves: Secret Authors of the Arabian Nights. In conversation with Jaipur Literature Festival producer Sanjoy K. Roy, he speaks of the stories, along with the stories behind the stories, to provide a fascinating glimpse of the great cultural reservoir of Arab, Persian and Indian narratives, bringing the literary process to life. 


A session featuring readings that voice different aspects of sexuality across the spectrum, along with the challenges and alliances across intersections of race, belief and gender. Farzana Doctor is a Canadian novelist, activist, psychotherapist and author of All Inclusive. Tom Cho is an artist and the author of the collection of fictions Look Who’s Morphing. Shree Paradkar is the Race and Gender columnist for the Toronto Star, Atkinson Fellow in Public Policy and author of Betrayed. 

For more than forty years, Madhur Jaffrey has been revered as the “queen of Indian cooking”. She is an award-winning actor and the best-selling author of more than 20 cookbooks which have brought the best of Indian cuisine to kitchens across the western world. Jaffrey has won seven James Beard Awards, and her classic An Invitation to Indian Cooking was inducted into the James Beard Foundation's Cookbook Hall of Fame. She discusses her work and her latest book Instantly Indian Cookbook in which she shares inviting, easy-to-follow recipes—some entirely new, others reworked classics—for preparing fantastic Indian food at home.