Indian Summer representatives turn a page in India at Jaipur Literary Festival

Published: January 24, 2013

LARISSA CAHUTE
VANCOUVER DESI

Jaipur Literature Festival

Indian Summer Arts Society Artistic Director Sirish Rao shares a contagious giggle with His Holiness The Dalai Lama at the Jaipur Literature Festival. Submitted photo

Members and organizers of Vancouver’s Indian Summer Festival (ISF) have travelled across the world to take part in Asia’s leading literary festival.

The Jaipur Literary Festival (JLF) kicked off Thursday in Diggi Palace in the Rajasthani capital of Jaipur, with Indian Summer Arts Society Artistic Director Sirish Rao emceeing the five-day event.

In its sixth year, JLF is a free meeting place for global authors, film stars, politicians and readers providing a number of workshops, performances and readings in multiple languages.

“JLF is a global conversation and it’s important for Vancouver to have a voice on the world stage,” Indian Summer Arts Society managing director Laura Byspalko told Vancouver Desi from Jaipur. “(It’s) a wonderful opportunity to instigate potential Canada-India collaborations — be they between speakers, musicians or artists — that can come to fruition at Vancouver’s ISF.”

A key mandate of ISF is cultural exchange, so three Vancouver writers who’ve been featured at the local festival also travelled to Jaipur to take the stage. The B.C. guests include Victor Chan, co-author of The Wisdom of Compassion with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and founding Director of the Dalai Lama Center in Vancouver; Anosh Irani, Vancouver-based novelist and playwright; and Sheniz Janmohamed, spoken word artist and author.

“Literature can be a window into understanding a new, different culture,” said Byspalko “It’s through literature that we can begin to understand our neighbours and form relationships based on understanding and respect.”

Rao and Byspalko will dedicate much of their time in Jaipur to “scoping out” potential talent for ISF this July.

“(Rao) is forever keeping his ears open for speakers and session themes that will resonate with a Vancouver audience,” said Byspalko. “By coming to Jaipur for the last few years, we’ve had the opportunity to listen to hundreds of authors and select folks like Hari Kunzru, MJ Akbar and Tarun Tejpal to travel back to Vancouver with us for our festival.”

JLF runs until Jan. 28 attracting tens of thousands of visitors from across the world and includes more than 180 literary sessions featuring 280 renowned authors. Some speakers include Anish Kapoor, Gary Shteyngart, Homi Bhabha, Pico Iyer, Shabana Azmi, Sebastian Faulks, Simon Armitage, Tim Supple and Zoe Heller.

The annual Indian Summer Festival celebrates the arts and diversity by pairing world-class South Asian talent with local Canadian counterparts. It will take place over 10 days in July at Simon Fraser University’s Goldcorp Centre for the Arts in Vancouver.




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