The Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) returns to Boulder, Colo., for the second time, on September 23. Offering three days of readings and panel discussions in and around the city’s public library, the event focuses on marginalized voices, including those of native Americans and other minorities and people of color. In all, 80 authors will participate.
Sanjoy Roy, managing director of Teamwork Arts and producer of the JLF, said that he and Tina Brown, who is an advisor to the JLF, were considering numerous cities in the U.S. for the event, but were ultimately charmed by Boulder and its great "indie" feel. “Plus, you need somewhere you can come for a few days and feel as if you’ve thrown away the key. Boulder, with its scenery and its river, is that.”
Roy said that in the nine years since the JLF was launched in India, it has become one of the world’s top literary festivals, attracting 330,000 people to the Diggi Palace in Rajasthan, India, each January. “It feels like a huge Indian wedding now,” he joked.
Boulder is the second offshoot of the JLF outside of India, following JLF in London, which launched three years ago.
This year’s U.S. event has a decidedly political slant, with talks addressing environmental issues, LGBTQ topics, gun laws, and, naturally, the presidential election.
The highlight of this year's Boulder show, according to Roy, is the appearance of Her Majesty the Royal Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck of Bhutan.
“When you have a former head of state who is involved in literature, it sends out the right messages,” he said. “This is a monarchy which decided to move its country to a democracy and they did it carefully with the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Now, the Bhutanese are often cited as being some of the happiest people in the world.”
Writers speaking at the show include Pulitzer Prize-winner Viet Thanh Nguyen, comics creator G. Willow Wilson, Suketu Mehta, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni and William Dalrymple (who is also festival director of the JLF). Other speakers range from diplomat Robert Blackwell, futurist Nassim Nicholas Taleb, and Sarah Crichton, editor and publisher of Sarah Crichton Books at Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
“The event is not just liberal or left of center, but really for all sides,” Roy noted. “The only noise you hear today is the noise of extremes and we want to create a space for dialog and the opportunity to listen.”