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JAIPUR: The Jaipur Literature Festival, known as the “world’s greatest literary spectacle”, returned to the capital of Rajasthan on Thursday for its 15th edition.

The festival, which put the northern Indian city of Jaipur on the world map of literary events, was held virtually last year due to COVID-19 restrictions.

This year it started online on March 5 with “A Life in Stories”, a session in which Abdulrazak Gurnah, Tanzanian winner of the 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature, took participants on a chronological tour of his life.

On Thursday, the festival moved to its grounds venue at Clarks Amer Hotel in Jaipur, where it will run until March 14.

“It is a pleasure to be back in physical form and to welcome the festival in the presence of the public,” Sanjoy K. Roy, general manager of the festival, told Arab News. “We thought we would have to organize the festival online again, but we are happy that we managed to find a suitable atmosphere to host the festival in physical format as well. This year, the festival is taking place in hybrid mode and people have the possibility to watch the sessions online and offline.”

Addressing the audience at the inaugural session, festival co-director Namita Gokhale said, “Coming back to the festival makes me emotional as I remember previous editions of the literary extravaganza featuring various writers and their stories. “

Author and historian William Dalrymple, who is also co-director of the festival, said the pandemic had been an “existential threat” to artists, whose livelihoods have been upended by the closures.

“But now we’re back,” he said, “with four Nobel laureates!”

Besides Gurnah, the festival features Abhijit Banerjee, who received the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2019; Daniel Kahneman, who won the same award in 2002; and Giorgio Parisi, who received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2021.

Visitors were greeted in the morning with a performance of “Raag Miya Ki Todi” by Ujwal Nagar, a maestro of Hindustani classical music.

Thursday’s sessions focused on issues of climate change and geopolitics.

German Ambassador to India Walter J. Lindner, who took part in a discussion on the importance of world peace, told Arab News that he went to the event because of the panel.

“This is my first time attending this literature festival and I was wondering if I should come because of the ongoing Russian war against Ukraine,” he said. “I thought I had to come because there was a panel on war and peace.”