The ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival officially kicked-off in Boulder, Colorado this Friday. The Festival, which is referred to as the “greatest literary show on earth,” will run through Sunday, September 17, and is jam-packed with a number of A-list guest speakers. Don’t miss your chance to catch the largest free event of its kind in the ‘brainest’ U.S. city in America!

ZEE JLF Boulder 2017 is expecting more than 10,000 attendees from throughout the U.S and around the world. More than 70 authors from across the world are participating, including Michael Rezendes from the Boston Globe’s famed ‘Spotlight’ team, which exposed the Catholic church scandal; Suki Kim, the only reporter to have gone undercover in North Korea; author- columnist, diplomat, and current Indian Ambassador to the US, Navtej Sarna; iconic poet Anne Waldman; diplomat and author Vikas Swarup of “Slumdog Millionaire” fame; Christina Lamb, author of “The Africa House” and “I Am Malala,” co-authored with Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai; Emmy Award-winning writer Kayhan Irani; and Alberto Ruy-Sánchez, fiction and non-fiction writer, poet and essayist from Mexico City. To view the complete list of speakers, click here.

This year’s theme is all about spreading love of the written word and ‘getting high on literature. Here’s your first look ZEE JLF Boulder’s Saturday line-up, which will put some of the world’s greatest minds together under one roof.

Saturday, September 16

10:45 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.

Neighbors in Arms

Larry Pressler and Shashi Tharoor in conversation with John Elliott

India and Pakistan have been locked in a hostile embrace for decades. When President George W. Bush could not certify that Pakistan was not developing a nuclear weapon, Senator Larry Pressler advocated the Pressler Amendment in an attempt (that failed) to monitor and potentially restrict economic and military assistance to Pakistan. A fascinating session on a significant chapter in the history of global nuclear politics, revealing behind-the-scene deliberations between the United States and the neighbors in arms. Senator Pressler and author and Indian parliamentarian Shashi Tharoor in conversation with journalist John Elliott.

Mogador: The Quest

Alberto Ruy Sánchez in conversation with Anosh Irani

Alberto Ruy Sánchez, distinguished author and editor, in a session on his travels, writing, and his quest to recreate worlds using poetry and mystical imagery. In conversation with writer Anosh Irani, he speaks of his first novel “Mogador”, written with what he calls “prose of intensities”, and the books that followed.

Living the Classics

Dan-el Padilla Peralta and Donna Zuckerberg with Johanna Hanink in conversation

Around the world, classical civilizations have formed an enduring template for literature and thought. What can we learn from the Greeks and the Romans? How do Greek tragedy and comedy help us understand modern day relationships? Three classicists, Dan-el Padilla Peralta, Donna Zuckerberg, and Johanna Hanink, examine the living legacy of the ancient world and the enduring value of classical literatures in terms of their interpretation in contemporary society.

Workshop: Around the World

Listen to stories that highlight our amazing world. Join us for songs and a celebration of different cultures. Suitable for all ages. Ruth Smith, Youth Services Specialist, Boulder Public Library.

12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.


Michael Rezendes in conversation with Mukund Padmanabhan

Famed journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Rezendes is a member of The Boston Globe’s Spotlight Team. In conversation with Mukund Padmanabhan, Editor in Chief of the iconic Indian newspaper, The Hindu, he speaks of the values, veracity and commitment required for investigative journalism and the changing definitions of news in the current media landscape.

The Untrod Path: Writing Travel

Christina Lamb, John Huston, Lori Erickson, Navtej Sarna and William Dalrymple in conversation with Irene Vilar

In a suddenly shrunken planet, the conventions of travel writing are being challenged by more experiential insider accounts. Five panelists speak of their very different approaches to recording and sharing their journeys with Irene Vilar.

Marvellous Thieves: Authors of the Arabian Nights

Paulo Lemos Horta in conversation with Kayhan Irani

Writer and translator Paulo Lemos Horta speaks of the fascinating cultural and literary history of the “Arabian Nights’, also known as “One Thousand and One Nights”. He maps out the network of travelers, translators and storytellers who gave the world these remarkable and unforgettable tales. The stories behind the stories provide a fascinating glimpse of the great cultural reservoir of Arab, Persian and Indian narratives, bringing the literary process to life.

1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Second Thoughts: A Writer and a Diplomat

Navtej Sarna in conversation with John Elliott

Navtej Sarna, Indian Ambassador to the United States of America, is the author of several acclaimed books on subjects as varied as romance, religion and history. In conversation with John Elliott on his life, travels and writing.


Dan-el Padilla Peralta, Devesh Kapur, and Kayhan Irani in conversation with Marcia Douglas

Human beings are a nomadic species, and migrations remain a constant part of human history. Economic migrants, political refugees, immigrants and emigrants chart new languages and societies, navigating exile and discovery, alienation and acceptance. Panelists from across continents and cultures speak of their individual experiences and perceptions.

The Life of Milarepa: From Text to Practice

Andrew Quintman, Holly Gayley, and Judy Lief in conversation with Nikko Odiseos, introduced by Namita Gokhale
Milarepa (c. 1052- c. 1135 CE) was the poet-sage of Tibet and is considered Tibet’s greatest mystic. The story of his dramatic and troubled life, his enlightenment, and the songs and poems he composed continue to inspire generations of Buddhists. Andrew Quintman, Holly Gayley, Judy Lief, and Nikko Odiseos revisit Milarepa’s childhood, adult life and teachings.

2:45 p.m. to 3:45 p.m.

A Life of Adventure and Delight

Akhil Sharma in conversation with Arsen Kashkashian and Maeve Conran

Akhil Sharma is an important voice in American fiction and the author of “An Obedient Father” and “Family Life”, which movingly document both Indians in India and the Indian-American immigrant experience. His latest book, “A Life of Adventure and Delight”, plunges the reader into the unpredictable workings of the human heart. In conversation with Arsen Kashkashian, the bookseller from Boulder Bookstore, and Maeve Conran, News Director at radio station KGNU, he talks about his writing.

To the Edge and Beyond

Anne Hillerman, Margaret Coel, and Stephen Graham Jones in conversation with Saikat Majumdar

Speculative and mystery fiction address the limits of our understanding and the unknown worlds beyond. In times of confusion and change, the pleasures and rewards of literature on the edge provide a glimpse of expanded consciousness, and the enigma of human life. A fascinating session across genres with Anne Hillerman, Margaret Coel, Stephen Graham Jones, and Saikat Majumdar.

The Culture of Reading

Alberto Ruy Sánchez, Amy Stolls, and Namita Gokhale in conversation with Philip A. Lutgendorf, introduced by Sameer Targe

The arts create a culture of empathy and cooperation. This important session looks at ways to create connectivities between languages, keeping humanities relevant and supporting the infrastructure of cultural communication.

Workshop: Odissi Dance Workshop

Swagata Banerjee, the artistic director and founder of Moksha Academy of Odissi Dance, shares her knowledge on this form of ancient classical Indian dance. Watch a short performance and learn some of the traditional movements. Suitable for all ages. Swagata Banerjee, Moksha Academy of Odissi Dance.

4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Patriot Games: Nationalism and Globalism

Devesh Kapur, Kayhan Irani, Mukund Padmanabhan, Omar El Akkad, and Yassmin Abdel-Magied in conversation with Ishaan Tharoor

The accelerating changes and unrelenting disruptions of globalization have led to a severe backlash and regression into simplistic racial and national identities. A panel of distinguished speakers examines new, often self-defeating definitions of patriotism and nationalism and the context in which they have arisen.

Undocumented: An American Dream

Dan-el Padilla Peralta in conversation with Maeve Conran

Dan-el Padilla Peralta came to America as a young boy with his family. Life in New York City was harder than they imagined. Their visas lapsed and Peralta’s father returned home to Santo Domingo. Peralta eventually went from being an undocumented immigrant to a Princeton professor. A session on the American dream with all its heartbreak and glory.

The Russian Revolution: A Hundred Years Later

Barbara Engel in conversation with David Shneer

The Russian revolution of 1917 was a watershed in world history, where the Bolsheviks party established the first Marxist state in the world. Strikes, protests and demonstrations, including food riots, mostly by women, helped spark the uprising that led to the downfall of the tsar in February and prepared the way for the triumph of the Bolsheviks the following fall. Barbara Engel and David Shneer speak in a riveting session about the events that preceded and followed the revolution as well as its legacy today.

5:15 p.m. to 6:15 p.m.

Undercover in North Korea: Facts and Fictions

Suki Kim in conversation with Omar El Akkad

Suki Kim, born in South Korea, is the author of acclaimed novel “The Interpreter” and New York Times bestselling book, “Without You There Is No Us: Undercover Amongst the Sons of North Korea’s elite,” which is about her six months undercover investigation in North Korea. In conversation with award-winning Canadian-Egyptian novelist and journalist Omar El Akkad, the duo speak of chronicling our troubled times and bridging the dysfunctionalities and distances between cultures and continents.

Ancestral Cultures: Legacy of the First Nations

Crisosto Apache, Erika Wurth, Janice Gould, and Stephen Graham Jones in conversation with Margaret Coel
A session that searches the legacy of ancestral cultures through the layers of collective memory. American Indian writers and artists speak of how they resist amnesia and cultural erasure amidst the dislocation of voice and identity as they invoke and celebrate the legacy of the First Nations.

6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

The Feminism Across Cultures: Breaking Boundaries

Anita Anand, Anne Waldman, Jeanine Canty, and Yassmin Abdel-Magied in conversation with Namita Bhandare
The politics of feminism is constantly evolving even as some issues remain unchanged. Whether it’s hijab politics or menstruation stigma, domestic violence or sexual abuse, gender pay gaps or leadership vacuums, today’s generation of feminists finds common causes that straddle the globe. Using new mediums like social media, can we forge new alliances and links that go beyond geographical boundaries? Anita Anand, Anne Waldman, Jeanine Canty and Yassmin Abdel-Magied in conversation with Namita Bhandare.

All the World’s A Stage

Ami Dayan, Anosh Irani, Kayhan Irani, and Mukund Padmanabhan in conversation with Sanjoy K. Roy

Looking at the discipline and practice of theatre and the live arts across cultures and continents. A session that speaks about the essence of performance and stagecraft. To view the entire ZEE JLF Boulder 2017 schedule, click here.

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