Saffron in the Pink City
There is a distinctive saffron presence in the crowds. Swami Agnivesh the activist and spiritual leader turns heads wherever he moves around. Followers and admirers surround him for photographs,touch his feet and shake his hand,and he complies with a smile. The Swami,who recently did a stint in the Bigg Boss house,will launch a book in Jaipur on Wednesday evening. I arrived here on Sunday and have been attending sessions since then, he says. On the Salman Rushdie controversy,he says,Islamic fundamentalists banned his book without reading a word of it; at least allow the man to come for the literature festival.
Are authors the new Bollywood stars? Some of them,yes,actually. Chetan Bhagat has been a big crowd-puller. At a discussion on Survival Strategies at the Time of the Twitterati on Sunday,when moderator Shoma Choudhary mistakenly pronounced Bhagats latest book as being Revolution 2010,hundreds of people corrected her in unison Revolution 2020. But Bhagat has tough competition from David Remnick,author and editor-in-chief of The New Yorker. After Remnicks second session on Sunday,titled Journalism as Literature,many young women rushed to the bookstalls to pick up his acclaimed works,with The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama being the most in demand. They stood in line,sharing notes about the tall,strapping,eloquent,well-read and witty writer-journalist.
They Missed It
Pulitzer Prize winner Annie Proulx was supposed to be the highlight of Day Four,on January 23,owing to her participation in two discussions The Art of Short Story,and Adaptations. However,inclement weather forced her to call off her India visit. Another absentee on the same day was Hari Kunzru,who was supposed to chair The Art of Short Story. Since he had to leave India,Booker Prize winner Michael Ondaatje was called on to fill in for him.