Niyogi Books has a long association with the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF), which celebrated its 10th anniversary this year. This year Jaipur Book Mark (JBM), the publishers’ conference where book rights and deals are discussed, was held simultaneously at the Diggi Palace, making it easier for publishers, authors and editors to attend both events. The difficulty lay in choosing which of the thought-provoking sessions to attend at any particular time. The sessions at JBM had a special focus on translation and were of significant interest this year.
Niyogi Books had a prominent role at both JBM and the JLF. We are one of the sponsors of JBM and our Editorial Director Mr Nirmal Kanti Bhattacharjee chaired a session on ‘Mahasweta Devi and Rabindranath Tagore in Translation’ and was a panellist in the discussion on ‘Translating India’. Mr Bikash D. Niyogi, Managing Director, Niyogi Books was also in a dynamic panel on ‘Algorithms of the Indian [Book] Market’. One of our books Lost Addresses received a special mention in the cover design category. Our congratulations to designer Misha Oberoi and Dsgn Unplugged
Niyogi Books titles were on display at the JBM venue and on sale at the bookstall. We also launched two of our new books to packed audiences at JLF venues.
Eminent historian John Keay unveiled Rajasthani Stories Retold by Rima Hooja on 22 January. The book is a collection of Rajasthani tales which reflect the royal heritage, the valour of the people and the unique and colourful heritage of this desert land. John Keay, who lives in Scotland, described the Rajasthani people as similar to the Scottish clans in their respect for honour and bravery, as well as tales of vendettas that span generations. Rima Hooja read excerpts from several of her stories, which were well received by the audience that included many young readers in the packed Samvad venue.
Niyogi Books’ launch on 23 January was of Ajmer Sharif: Awakening of Sufism in South Asia by Pakistani journalist Rima Abbasi. It is an in-depth researched work on the history, spiritual journey and humanistic legacy of the Sufi saint Khwaja Muinuddin Chishti, which features over 200 unique and evocative photographs of his shrine at Ajmer Sharif. The book was launched by a power-packed panel comprising directors of the JLF Namita Gokhale and Sanjoy Roy, writer and Sufi scholar Sadia Dehlvi, the hereditary custodian of the Ajmer Sharif shrine Syed Salman Chishty, and noted film director Imtiaz Ali. The panellists discussed the relevance of the saint’s timeless message of love and the enduring force of his shrine. The audience overflowed the Charbagh venue, with many enthusiastic viewers sitting in the space before the stage, standing around the tent throughout the session and unwilling to leave even after it was over.
From the inauguration by Rajasthan’s Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and an inspiring performance by the Shillong Chamber Choir to the final debate moderated by Barkha Dutt that featured prominent public intellectuals, JLF had something for everyone. It was a riot of colour and creativity. Eminent authors, film actors, public intellectuals, prominent publishers and enthusiastic school and college students thronged the grounds. Large banners at the venue displayed quotes describing the event. ‘JLF is officially the Woodstock, Live 8 and Ibiza of world literature’ said Time Out. Simon Schama, writer and historian, described it as ‘The most fabulous literary love-fest on the planet.’ The high energy and enthusiasm levels of the visitors who filled the Diggi Palace grounds and moved from one venue to another was palpable.
For the crowds that crossed 300,000 on the weekend there was a feast of intellectual offerings to choose from—from scholarly discussions on the Puranas to a scientific talk on Trilobites, from the harrowing tale of a North Korean defector (who received a standing ovation) to the fascinating history of the Kohinoor diamond, from the search for nutmeg to the search for spiritual bliss, from the narrative of India’s colonisation to the nature of the ‘post-truth’ world. And there was always time to chat with an eminent author, get an autograph or a selfie, browse through the bookstore, shop for ethnic items and grab a snack from the food stalls. After six days of interesting literary sessions, bibliophiles, published writers, aspiring authors and industry veterans returned sated—and looking forward to JLF 2018. Niyogi Books is sure to be at what has been described as the ‘Kumbh Mela of literature’ next year, with more exciting books to offer our readers. Hope to see you there!