Thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours and Hope Road Publishing for the opportunity to read, review and share my thoughts about this magical book on the blog tour. The book was published on Thursday 29th April. My thoughts are not influenced by the gift of a proof copy.
From the co-founder of the Jaipur Literary Festival, a brilliant, funny, and moving novel set against the background of the festival, and the characters that make it tick
Told from multiple perspectives, from the authors enjoying moments of adulation after years of creative isolation, to the star-struck public mingling with their cultural icons, to those in-between, who are both author and fan, thesediverse stories of lost love and regret, self-doubt, and new beginnings come together in a narrative that is as varied as India itself.
From a septuagenarian who has completed her semi-biographical novel but does not want to part with it, to an author who receives a threat in the form of a poison pen letter; from a historian who reunites with a past lover, to a burglar who is passionate about poetry; from a young woman who has no idea what this world has in store for her, to an American woman looking for the India of her hippie youth, this metafictional, wryly funny novel is an ode to literature.
Partly a love letter to the greatest literary show on earth, partly a satire about the glittery set that throngs the festival year after year, and partly an ode to the millions of aspiring writers who wander the earth with unsubmitted manuscripts in their bags, Jaipur Journals is a light-footed romp that showcases in full form Gokhale’s unsparing eye for the pretensions and the pathos of that loneliest tribe of them all: the writers.
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When the email from Anne popped into my inbox, I nearly said no. But there was something about the synopsis that intrigued me, and I’m glad I said yes please. This book brings Jaipur to life, the people, the food and the Literature Festival.
As an avid book reader, I still haven’t visited a Literature Festival in person (but have joined a few via zoom recently). However, after reading Jaipur Journals, I’m now concerned that I will find them rather dull.
The book is full of stories within stories, as authors and visitors mingle at the Literature Festival. The story features dreams, ambitions, relationships and poison pen notes. Rudrani Rana is at the centre of the story, hoping to be a published author but with no patience for some of the authors. She makes an unlikely friend in Jaipur, and the chance meeting changes the course of events for both of them. At first I wasn’t sure whether I liked her, but I did find myself hoping that she would succeed in her quest.
This was a book I settled back and enjoyed reading. I’ve never been to India (the nearest I’ve been is Sri Lanka and the Maldives), but Namita Gokhale’s writing transported me over four thousands miles from the UK to Jaipur. The writing is magical, moving quickly between characters and events, a real rollercoaster ride for the reader. I’m happy to recommend this colourful book, full of small dramas and large characters. Thank you Namita Gokhale for an escape from reality.
Born in Lucknow, India, NAMITA GOKHALE, is an award-winning writer, publisher, and the co-founder/director (with William Dalrymple) of the Jaipur Literary Festival. She is the author of over twenty fiction and non-fiction books including the best-selling Paro: Dreams of Passion, Priya, and Things to Leave Behind. In 2017 Namita was awarded the first ever Centenary National Award for Literature by the Literary Society of Assam for her service to the Indian nation in supporting and showcasing Indian writing talents. Described as one of the finest Indian writers, she lives in New Delhi