International festival will feature prominent literary figures from Qatar and around the world

Qatar National Library Announces Speakers, Program for JLF Doha

JLF Doha

Qatar National Library, in partnership with Teamwork Arts, the producer of the iconic Jaipur Literature Festival in India, hosted a press conference today to announce the final list of speakers for JLF Doha, which runs from 12 to 14 December at the Library. The press conference panel was attended by Dr. Sohair Wastawy, Executive Director of the Library, Ibrahim Al Hashmi, Media Affairs and Special Projects, Spokesperson's Office at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Sanjoy K. Roy, Managing Director of Teamwork Arts. The panel discussion was moderated by Ahmed Al Malki, Head of Young Adults at the Library. 

Sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ooredoo, Qatar’s leading telecommunications operator, JLF Doha will recreate the magnificent spirit, color, energy and ambiance of the grand Jaipur Literature Festival in India, with a packed weekend of events celebrating books, creativity, ideas and culture.

Prominent authors and thinkers from Qatar and around the world highlight the Festival’s schedule. Among the authors in attendance will be William Dalrymple, bestselling author, historian and co-director of the Jaipur Literature Festival; Manu S. Pillai, author of the critically-acclaimed The Ivory Throne, Rebel Sultans and The Courtesan, the Mahatma and the Italian Brahmin; Alex Shaw, author of the Aidan Snow thrillers Cold Blood, Cold Black and Cold East; Pranay Lal, award-winning author of Indica: A Deep Natural History of the Indian Subcontinent; Prayaag Akbar, author of Leila, which was turned into a drama serial this year by Netflix; and Tony Joseph, author of the bestselling and award-winning book Early Indians: The Story of Our Ancestors and Where We Came From.

Numerous members of the Qatar community will speak as well, including Dr.  Ahmad Dallal, Dean of Georgetown University in Qatar and author Islam without Europe: Traditions of Reform in Eighteenth-Century Islamic Thought and Islam, Science and the Challenge of History; Amal Mohammed Al-Malki, Founding Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Hamad bin Khalifa University; Dr. James Onley, Director of Historical Research and Partnerships at Qatar National Library and author of The Arabian Frontier of the British Raj; M. Reza Pirbhai, Associate Professor of History at Georgetown University in Qatar and author of the books Reconsidering Islam in a South Asian Context and Fatima Jinnah: Mother of the Nation; Sam Meekings, poet, novelist and Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Northwestern University in Qatar; and Uday Chandra, Assistant Professor of Government at Georgetown University in Qatar.

They are joined by Paul McVeigh, co-founder of the London Short Story Festival; Dr. Rakhshanda Jalil, translator, writer and literary historian; Kim Pereira, actor, director, playwright and author of August Wilson And The African-American Odyssey; American journalist Jeffrey Gettleman, winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting; Asma Khan, the first British chef to be featured on Netflix’s Chef’s Table; Buket Uzuner, one of Turkey’s “75 Most Influential Women”; Sharmila Tagore, veteran Indian actress;  Musharraf Ali Farooqi, author of 2012 Man Asia Literary Prize finalist Between Clay and Dust; Namita Gokhale, author, founder and co-director of the Jaipur Literature Festival and of Mountain Echoes, the Bhutan Literature Festival; and Sanjoy K. Roy, Managing Director of Teamwork Arts.

Dr. Sohair Wastawy, Executive Director of the Library, said: “The local literary scene is flourishing, and there is nothing to hold back both experienced and emerging writers. JLF Doha is an incredible opportunity for the people of Qatar to share and widen their own interests and knowledge through thoughtful exchanges with a mix of the world’s greatest writers, literary figures and thought leaders. We encourage all authors, students, teachers and anyone interested in literature to come and be inspired at JLF Doha.”

Ibrahim Al Hashmi, said: “We are delighted to be part of a landmark moment for our literary landscape, the latest example of Qatar’s role in the global exchange of culture and ideas. JLF Doha is a formidable example of how the Library works with international partners to bring different cultures together, and is also a testament to a cultural friendship between two nations with a long, rich history of cooperation.”

Sanjoy K. Roy, Managing Director of Teamwork Arts, said: “Art and literature are two constants not bound by geographical boundaries. They have a universality within them that encourages us to absorb an idea, explore its differences and appreciate its inherent diversity. JLF Doha, a confluence of East and West, brings together enlightened voices from across the world, to recognize similarities, engender empathy and celebrate the timeless appeal of literature and of ideas which are integral to our times, in resplendent Qatar.”

The Festival’s program features engaging sessions and stimulating discourse. Manu S. Pillai and William Dalrymple, two chroniclers of the story of South Asia, will examine the colorful tapestry of Indian history in the session “Of Thrones and Sultans: Tales from Indian History.” In another event, Dalrymple will tell the story of the East India Company and discuss The Anarchy, his most ambitious and riveting book to date. In conversation with academics Firat Oruc, Buket Uzuner will explore the changing face of the city she calls home, Istanbul, with reference to her book I Am Istanbul. Dalrymple and Dr. James Onley will engage in a conversation on empire, its origins and its lasting impact.

Musharraf Ali Farooqui, the maestro of the mysterious and the unexpected, will take us through his latest novel, The Merman and the Book of Power, a heady mix of the past and present, history and mythology, told in the classical qissa style of storytelling fables common to the oral and written literature in Urdu, Persian and Arabic. In his book Early Indians, Tony Joseph will take the audience on an intriguing foray into our common past with a look at the life-changing journeys our ancestors took and our attempts to trace their patterns of migration, the spread of Homo sapiens and the genetic evidence found in the course of the human journey.

In “Asma’s Indian Kitchen,” celebrity chef Asma Khan will reveal the secrets of her success, telling her immigrant's story and how food brought her home. Also at the Festival, legendary Indian film actress Sharmila Tagore will speak of cinema, literature and a lifetime of achievement, in conversation with Sanjoy K. Roy.

The Festival goes hand-in-hand with the Library’s celebration of the Qatar India 2019 Year of Culture, which features numerous other events in November and December, including “Qatar, India and the Gulf” exhibition. For more information on the program and speakers, please visit: