Jaipur Literature Festival, the largest free book festival of its kind, returns to Boulder

Andre Akiman calls himself “approx writer.” Despite writing fiction and bestselling memoirs such as “Call Me By Your Name” And “Out of Egypt,” the 71-year-old author emphasizes the circumstance to capture the shadows of uncertainty that color our lives.

“I don’t think there is any firm belief in reality or truth,” Akiman said, “and ‘almost’ gives him that extra hesitation, which is part of my identity.” “Without a doubt, I am nothing.”

These ideas are pervasive through Aciman’s latest collection of essays, “Homo Irrealis”—which came out in paperback earlier this year—and will take center stage when the famous Italian-American writer, born in Egypt, appears at the Colorado Station in Colorado. Jaipur Literature Festival At the main branch of the Boulder Public Library, September 16-18.

More than 60 novelists, poets, artists and change-makers from around the world will gather for the annual traveling literary event that began nearly two decades ago in Rajasthan, India. Boulder is one of only three stops in the US for this year’s festival.

“I was amazed when I first went to Jaipur in India for the festival,” said Akiman. “There must have been about 2,000 people of all kinds listening to me talking about my book. It’s another world, opening the book to different populations of very welcoming and educated people. Who could say no to this?”

But moving that otherworldly world to Boulder takes some effort, according to JLF Colorado Executive Director Jesse Friedman. Like Akiman, the local psychotherapy was inspired by her experience at the Indian festival in 2014, drawing on the thought of heavy literature such as Chimanda Ngozi Adichie And the Orhan Pamuk.

When Friedman returns to Front Range after her visit, she learns that she wants to bring the event to her home in the hills.

20220915-BOULDER-JAIPUR-BOOK-FESTIVALJaipur Literature Festival Courtesy of
David Sanford, left, a festival attendee, receives a book signed by India’s former ambassador to the United States, Navtej Sarna.

“I thought Boulder was a perfect place because of our openness, intellectual nature, and curiosity,” she said. “But realizing that here was really a circus—a good circus. Nobody really knows what was going on or what this was.”

Nearly a decade later, the event billed as “the world’s largest free literary festival” will see its seventh stop in Boulder this fall, with an array of free talks, workshops, performances and more. The three-day salon will bring together writers from around the world to discuss their work along with the most pressing issues of the day – from polarization to peacebuilding, And the points in between.

“These conversations deeply touch the human condition and what we’re doing here,” Friedman said.

Boulder fights over her weight.

Some residents may feel that Boulder is the center of the universe, but the small, hilly village of more than 100,000 people wasn’t on JLF organizers’ radar until Friedman reached out to collective arts director Sanjoy K. He must host the first American expansion of his organization’s leading literary event.

After her experience with JLF in India, Friedman put together what she called a “deeply researched presentation” on why her hometown is the perfect location. But hopes were dashed when I learned that directors of organizations like The Getty in Los Angeles and the private Aspen Institute in Colorado—not to mention Chicago Opera’s power players and former mayor Richard Daley—were pushing to host the expanded literary event in their cities.

“I didn’t think we had a chance,” she said. “But two weeks later, Sanjoy was in my living room. We took him on a tour of Boulder and he fell in love with him.”

Boulder suddenly prepared to become The first site in the United States To host the huge festival, but the question of location remained. When Boulder Public Library Director David Farnan felt winded down that JLF was narrowing its sights to the city, he saw the opportunity to make a case for the library and invited organizers to tour the 92,000-square-foot facility in the heart of downtown.

“It was really about the idea of ​​bringing a world-renowned literary festival to Boulder,” Farnan said. “I found a lot of support within the city, including the mayor at the time, Matt Appelbaum. Everyone was excited about the possibility of the Boulder Public Library being the venue for the Jaipur Literature Festival.”

This excitement would only be exacerbated the following year, when the library was named 2016 Colorado Library of the Year by the Colorado Library Association due in part to what Friedman calls Farnan’s “visual” approach to bringing programming like JLF.

20220915-BOULDER-JAIPUR-BOOK-FESTIVALJaipur Literature Festival Courtesy of
The Jaipur Festival of Literature will return to the main branch of the Boulder Public Library from September 16-18.

“The mayor said to me, ‘Boulder always fights above her weight class.’ And I thought that was a fun way to look at it,” Farnan said. “When the Boulder Public Library became the venue for the Jaipur Literature Festival, we were definitely above our weight class.”

This year, Boulder will be one of three US stops for the international festival, along with Houston and New York City. Visitors can expect what Farnan calls a “total transformation” of the library’s second floor into a 400-seat performance space.

But for Friedman, whose own vision helped bring the festival to Boulder nearly a decade ago, the real transformation is taking place in audience members’ lives after the last speaker steps off the stage.

“People are often left with learning more about a topic they didn’t know much about before, or with a new understanding of events in other parts of the world,” she said. “I think people are going to be very affected by what’s going on here.”

In addition to André Aciman, this year’s participating artists will range from local talents such as Poet Aurora, winner of the Ahja Fox Award An Indian journalist and former diplomat Gopalkrishna Gandhi – Grandson of Mahatma Gandhi – who will present the premiere of “Colorado”Ahimsa Gandhi: The power of the weak Directed by Ramesh Sharma during A Fundraising party tickets On September 16.

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