Jaipur: The Jaipur Literature festival is in trouble once again. Fringe organisations have demanded that authors who read excerpts from Booker winner Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses at last year's fest be barred from attending this year's edition. There have also been protests against participation by Pakistani authors by some groups. Speaking to NDTV, Mr Rushdie said, "Let's just hope that good sense prevails."
Organisers of the annual literary event say they will not be bullied by these threats and that all invited authors will attend and be given security.
One of the organisers, Sanjoy Roy, spoke to NDTV yesterday, and said, "We will not be bullied. This is terrorism of the mind at its worst. A few people are holding everyone hostage by claiming to represent others." He went on to say that artists are targeted because they are highly visible soft targets.
"How can you allow a few people to hijack a nation's agenda again and again?" Roy asked, adding "These people tend to get away because the media tends to accentuate this terrorism of the mind."
Last year, Salman Rushdie was forced to cancel his appearance at the festival after protests and threats from fundamentalist groups. Four authors -- Ruchir Joshi, Jeet Thayil, Amitava Kumar and Hari Kunzru -- then pitched in and read excerpts from his 1988 book Satanic Verses, which is still banned in India.
The keynote address at the inaugural session on January 24 will be given by celebrated Bengali writer Mahasweta Devi, an iconic promoter of human rights and women's emancipation. The Dalai Lama will be in attendance too this year.
This year's festival will play host to diverse subjects -- the history of miniature painting and war reporting, Sharia Law and gay and lesbian literature, the Jewish novel, the 18th century sexual revolution, detective fiction and the literature of 9/11. It will also focus on new writing from Latin America and Iran.