The Jaipur Literature Festival is an annual literary festival taking place in the pink city of Jaipur since 2006. The Diggi Palace Hotel serves as the main venue of the festival. The Jaipur Literature Festival is the biggest literary festival not just in India, but in Asia, and was described by Miranda Seymour in the Mail on Sunday of the 10th August 2008 as “the grandest literary Festival of them all”. It is held each year in Jaipur, Rajasthan during the month of January, usually in the Hall of Audience and gardens of the Diggi Palace in the city centre, and celebrates excellence in Rajasthani, Indian and International writing.
The festival directors are the writers Namita Gokhale and William Dalrymple and is produced by Sanjoy Roy of Teamwork Productions. The Festival is an Initiative of the Jaipur Virasat Foundation founded by Faith Singh, originally as a segment of the Jaipur Heritage International Festival in 2006, and developed into a free-standing festival of literature standing on its own feet in 2008. JVF’s Community Director Vinod Joshi is its regional advisor. The Jaipur Heritage International Festival is an initiative of the Jaipur Virasat Foundation. All events at the festival are free and not ticketed.
The 2006 inaugural Jaipur Literature Festival had 18 writers including Hari Kunzru, William Dalrymple, Shobhaa De and Namita Gokhale and 14 others. It drew a crowd of about 100 attendees, including some who “appeared to be tourists who had simply got lost,” according to the event’s co-director William Dalrymple.In 2007 the festival grew in size and featured Salman Rushdie, Kiran Desai, Suketu Mehta, Shashi Deshpande, and William Dalrymple. In 2008 the festival continued to expand with about about 2,500 attendees and the following authors/speakers: Ian McEwan, Donna Tartt, John Berendt, Paul Zacharia, Indra Sinha, Uday Prakash, Christopher Hampton, Manil Suri, Miranda Seymour, Sonia Faleiro, Kunal Basu, Kamila Shamsie, Nayantara Sahgal, Sarnath Banerjee, Jeet Thayil, Robin Roberston, Tishani Doshi among others. Performance and music featured highly on the festival agenda. Paban Das Baul, Susheela Raman, Karsh Kale and Anoushka Shankar performed.The 2009 festival had about 12,000 attendees and over 140 authors/speakers including Vikram Seth, Pico Iyer, Michael Ondaatje, Simon Schama, Tina Brown, Hanif Kureshi, Hari Kunzru, Pankaj Mishra, Tariq Ali, Ahmed Rashid, Patrick French, Mohsin Hamid, Mohammed Hanif, Sunil Gangopadhyay, Tarun Tejpal, Sashi Tharoor, U R Ananthmurthy, Alka Saraogi, Anuragh Mathur, Ashok Vajpayi, Asish Nandy, Basharat Peer, Charles Nicoll, Christophe Jafferlot, Colin Thubron, Daniyal Mueenudin, Geetanjali Shree, Mukul Kesavan, Musharraf Ali Farooqui, Narayana Rao, Nikita Lalwani, Paul Zacharia, Pavan K Varma, Rana Dasgupta, S R Faruqui, Tariq Ali, Tash Aw, Udayan Vajpayi, Farah Khan and Sonia Faleiro, with music provided by DJ Cheb i Sabbah, Nitin Sawney, and Paban Das Baul. The special theme was the oral tradition, in India and elsewhere.