The Visionary: Dr APJ Abdul Kalam

The charismatic former Indian President, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, was received with a rock  star reception as he took centre-stage in conversation with Bibek Debroy on day 4 of the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival. Dr Kalem drew the biggest crowd at this year’s festival so far, with the Rajnigandha Front Lawns thronged with people of all ages and cultures, eager to listen to… Read more »

Romance, Tragedy and Truth Telling: The Red Saree and Other Stories

‘I chose to write about Sonia Gandhi because nobody had written about her.’ Moro described his rendering of Sonia Gandhi’s story as a ‘dramatized biography.’ The Red Saree and Other Stories is about Ghandi’s personal transformation over the course of her life: ‘It is a drama about change, how people change, how people adapt.’ Moro observed that he had found it mysterious how… Read more »

Devil’s Advocate: Ram Jethmalani

A huge reception greeted renown lawyer and politician Ram Jethmalani as he addressed a capacity crowd in the final session of this year’s ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival. Shobhaa De introduced the ‘legal legend’ as ‘delightful, incorrigible and impossible.’ Jethmalani was voted on Quora, a question and answer website, as the ‘most badass lawyer in India.’ His recent biography, written by Susan Adelman, was also… Read more »

Shadow Play: The Art of Biography

This was an informative discussion about the fundamentals of the art of writing biographies, during which the illustrious panel exchanged anecdotes of their experiences. Anita Anand said that Shadow Play was an apt title for the session, since biography writers tried to bring to light the hidden facts about a subject, to reach in and come to know… Read more »

The Writer’s Life: Artemis Cooper, Lara Feigel, Maya Jasanoff, Nicholas Shakespeare, Moderated By Sarah Churchwell

Writers who write about writers… The panel was a leading line-up of literary biographers discussing the life and work of their subjects and laying it down in prose. Moderator Sarah Churchwell, biographer of legendary writer F. Scott Fitzgerald and The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe, joked that whilst writing about Fitzgerald, the constant voice in her head… Read more »

Footloose: Nicholas Shakespeare, Isabella Tree, Robyn Davidson And Cheryl Strayed, Moderated By William Dalrymple

The much-admired group of travel writers read extracts from their books, and the eclectic mix of styles itself demonstrated the fluidity of the genre of ‘travel writing’. The readings also demonstrated that travel writing is at heart about storytelling. Nicholas Shakespeare read from Bruce Chatwin, his biography on one of the most famous travel writers of all time, and… Read more »