The master fairground


Before Jaipur: January 23

The Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) is the opiate of the literary classes. By early December, every year, for the last five odd years most conversations feature the inevitable question — Are you going to be in Jaipur? And the replies, surprisingly, are usually in the negative. I say, surprisingly because despite the growing reluctance of regulars to return to Jaipur, the attendance at the literature festival has grown exponentially every year (with a unique visitor registration of 57,000, and a footfall of more than 122,000 in 2012). One of the principal reasons the literary classes attempt feebly to resist the temptation of showing up at what has come to be one of the world’s largest literary parties is the impossible crowds at the venue. Hence, the ‘too-old-for-Jaipur’ explanation. And then there is also a ‘too-cool-for-Jaipur’ school of thought among those who want to establish themselves as credibly counter current. But in the end they are all the more likely to show up than not. To wonder why is to ask a near existential question. There are many possible answers and yet no satisfactory explanation. To look at their favourite writer in the flesh, then to come back with stories to narrate at dinner parties for the rest of the year, is to seek Xanadu.

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