When the pandemic struck, books provided an indispensable portal to other worlds beyond our living rooms. Sales of everything from vintage paperbacks to Kindle downloads increased when COVID-19 hit the scene.
Whether people curled up with familiar classics or immersed themselves in new versions, prose and poetry provided a nice respite from all this frenzy of global health surveillance.
Jaipur Literature Festival Colorado – a celebration of the written word – turned into a virtual platform last year for security reasons. The beloved event – highlighting cross-cultural perspectives – returns Friday through Sunday, and while still offered online, the multi-day festival promises a diverse lineup of authors, engaging talks, readings. captivating and passionate presenters.
After the vaccine helped lower COVID-19 numbers, Jessie Friedman, executive director of JLF Colorado, said the team was optimistic about hosting a hybrid festival that would include in-person and virtual events This year.
“As we began to program and plan an exciting in-person event with all the color, passion, meaning, depth and charm of JLF Colorado, we learned that many writers still weren’t willing to travel. “Friedman said. .
While people can’t get together in person, hosting the festival on the web allows more book lovers to join in on the fun at no cost and attendees to tune in regardless of their schedule.
“The virtual format has provided many new opportunities for easier access to presenters, as well as a significant increase in our audience around the world,” Friedman said, noting that in March 2021, the virtual festival of fall 2020 had collected more than 700,000 views.
In addition to providing virtual content during last year’s festival, the organizers have strived to provide a platform for an ongoing conversation around a variety of relevant topics.
“In 2020, JLF Colorado also presented eight panels throughout the year with writers from BIPOC and LGBTQ Colorado on issues of structural racism and inequity, resilience, power of the arts and dismantling of the systemic oppression, ”Friedman said.
Stories of resilience and justice are woven throughout this year’s JLF programming.
From poet and activist Suzi Q. Smith and Indigenous author Erika T. Wurth – both Denver-based designers – to Marcus Moench, a climate change expert who founded the nonprofit Boulder Institute for social and environmental transition, Colorado local representation can be found as part of an extended program.
As always, international voices also resonate through the vast contributions.
“This next weekend we will bring you renowned journalists from Kabul, Israel, Europe, India and Australia,” Friedman said. “The virtual format has extended our reach and has enabled many arts organizations to continue bringing the arts to the public, even as the financial resources for the arts have largely dissipated. “
Although the event is free, donations to JLF Colorado are always welcome, Friedman said.
“For those who are able to offer a sign-up donation – or if you are inspired during the festival and throughout the year – we are deeply grateful,” Friedman said.
An archive of hundreds of recorded sessions can be viewed on JLF’s YouTube channel if people wish to review previous discussions.
The Colorado event – first held in 2015 – is a spinoff from a festival of the same name in Jaipur, India, which, before the pandemic, attracted more than 300,000 attendees per year.
London, Belfast, New York, Toronto and a number of other cities have organized their own vibrant JLFs.
“I love the variety of authors talking to JLF,” said Arsen Kashkashian, chief book buyer and general manager of Boulder Book Store, who is one of this year’s featured attendees. “I’m always learning from writers I don’t know from other parts of the world. It’s just a wonderful place to discover new stories. I attended all JLF in Boulder and had the pleasure of attending JLF in Jaipur in January 2020. ”
For JLF Colorado, Kashkashian will speak with Alka Joshi, the author of “The Henna Artist” and “The Secret Keeper of Jaipur”.
“These are gripping novels that tell intimate stories while having the epic backdrop of Jaipur and Indian society,” Kashkashian said.
Joshi’s 2020 release “The Henna Artist” received high praise from Reese Witherspoon, and the actress included the novel as a pick in her Hello Sunshine Book Club.
Miramax TV intends to bring the bestseller – about a strong female protagonist who escaped an abusive marriage – to screen as a series.
“I can’t wait to see Damon Galgut talk about his book ‘The Promise’,” Kashkashian said. “He’s shortlisted for this year’s Booker Prize. I always love hearing Laird Hunt and William Dalrymple. I am delighted to see Charmaine Craig, the author of ‘Miss Burma’.
Attendees can check out the busy schedule that features cyber events at various times at jlflitfest.org/colorado/schedule.
While JLF may not be in person yet, Kashkashian continues to regularly offer plenty of in-store events at Boulder Book Store that people can experience this fall.
“We have events here at the store every week,” Kashkashian said. “We recently hosted Colorado favorites Peter Heller and Stephen Graham Jones. We also hosted one of my favorite musicians, Rickie Lee Jones, for his new memoir. We have Jackson Crawford on October 20, Jenny Shank on October 21, and Michelle Nighuis on October 12, among others.
The full program is available at BoulderBookStore.net/event.
JLF organizers are hoping for the festival to return in person next year, as future circumstances do not disrupt plans.
“If we can get the support of our audience, we’ll be live in 2022,” Friedman said.