With less than 24 hours for one of the world’s largest literary festivals, our editors are already keeping tabs on the sessions they are most kicked about. Here’s what they are most looking forward to at this year’s fest:
- I heard Alexander McCall Smith many years ago at Galle, and he was the most charming and funny writer I have ever seen on stage. I promptly bought all the Ladies Detective Agency books and you will too when you have heard him speak.
- Peter Frankopan with Colin Thubron: I loved Frankopan’s The Silk Roads: A New History of the World and can’t wait to see him in conversation with Thubron, a dream team.
- Sunil Khilnani’s session on his forthcoming book, which is based on his BBC Radio 4 series called Incarnations: India through Fifty Lives. These 50 lives, from the Buddha to Dhirubhai Ambani, with M.S. Subbulakshmi and M.F. Husain in between, are brought to life through superb writing and great scholarship, lightly worn.
- Vidya Dehejia’ sessions that I’ve heard previously have all been brilliant, whether speaking herself on Chola sculpture or Sanskrit grammar, or on a panel, drawing out other writers to reveal new and fascinating things about their work.
- Colin Thubron is the greatest travel writer today, in my opinion, not only for the sense of place that he evokes so vividly, but also because of the stories and textures of people’s everyday lives that he writes about with extraordinary empathy.
- Colin Thubron’s To a Mountain in Tibet was an extraordinary reading experience, and I am looking forward to hearing him live.
- I am currently reading H is for Hawk, which is fantastic, and I’m really keen to hear Helen Macdonald.
- I am looking forward to the Parivaar, Parampara aur Parivartan session with Alka Saraogi and Mridula Sinha, moderated by Poonam Saxena.
- The session titled ‘After the Arab Spring’ promises to be exciting, with Mona Eltahawy, Sulaiman Addonia, Vali Nasr, Omar Barghouti and Laleh Khalili as panelists and Gerard Russell as the moderator.
- Finally, I am really keen to see Hari Ram Meena, Ruby Hembrom, Peter B. Andersen and Mohini Gupta discuss the indigenous literature of India.