Colorado City Teams With Jaipur, India, to Celebrate Literature


Dubbed the world’s largest free literary festival, the Jaipur Literature Festival began in Jaipur, India, in 2006, and now boasts nearly 300 speakers and half a million visitors every year.

The festival also travels globally, with its first stop in the U.S. in Boulder.

India’s beau monde gathered in Boulder, Colorado, recently to showcase some of the literary world’s most talented writers.

Festival co-director Namita Gokhale said she loves Boulder’s highly educated community. And while the city is best known for its high-tech industry, a big draw for Gokhale is its natural environment.

“Something about this place reminds me of my hometown in the Himalayas,” she said.

Wherever the festival goes, Gokhale said the goal is to foster a deep sense of joyfulness through life experiences.

“Joy doesn’t mean just a bubble gum happiness. It means extracting a deeper understanding from possibly even the most tragic situations,” she added.

Lighthearted moments

In her graphic novel, “Good Talk,” Mira Jacob confronts race and gender struggle in her extended family.

It’s a serious topic that Jacob weaves throughout her novel. But, in telling her painful story, the author conjures a sense of lightheartedness that makes her audience burst into laughter.

Jacob explained that her Indian-born mother copes by telling friends, “Mira has her stories, and I know the truth.”

Tragedy and triumph

Palestinian-born physician Izzeldin Abuelaish’s book, “I Shall Not Hate,” tells the story of Israeli soldiers shelling his home a decade ago, killing his three daughters.

“But I can keep them alive in my heart and in my soul. In your hearts. In your souls. Not with the bullet or the shell. It’s with wisdom, with kind, courageous, strong words and with good deeds,” Abuelaish told a stunned Boulder audience.

In “The Shadow King,” tragedy and triumph take centerstage. Ethiopian-born author Maaza Mengiste’s novel recounts the 1935 Italian invasion of Ethiopia. Mengiste told her audience that her story is not just a story about Ethiopia: It’s about “every woman and every girl who’s had to survive some kind of conflict, whether it’s in war or in the home.”

“Silence in some ways protects us,” she added. “Until we hear someone else’s story, and understand that we’re not alone.”

Mengiste is a Fulbright scholar who finds nontraditional ways to discover stories from the past. She invites Twitter users to send photos of women during wartime.

Source: Voice of America