JLF Houston 2021 to showcase a stellar lineup

Speakers: Adam Tooze, Alia Malek, Analicia Sotelo, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Firdous Azim, Ira Mukhoty, Jenny Bhatt, Katherine Eban, Kim Ghattas, Kunal Basu, Lisa Taddeo, Lupe Mendez, Namita Gokhale, Parul Kapur Hinzen, Patrick Radden Keefe, Rabih Alameddine, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Sadaf Saaz, Seema Sirohi, Shruti Rajagopalan, Sunit Tandon, Sanjoy K. Roy, Vinita Sud Belani, and Vinod Busjeet

The much-anticipated JLF Houston 2021, scheduled for October 16th – 17th, 10 AM – 4 pm CT, is back with a unique virtual edition showcasing leading speakers from across the globe. Free and open to all, the sessions will be livestreamed on the official JLF website. To register for JLF Houston 2021, visit https://jlflitfest.org/houston/registration.

Michael Buening, Director of Performing Arts and Culture, Asia Society Texas Center said, “We are thrilled to collaborate again with Teamwork Arts and Inprint for the fourth edition of JLF Houston. The programmingfeaturing illuminating discussions with world class authors and thought leadersembodies Asia Society Texas’s mission to foster cross cultural dialogue and celebrate vibrant, diverse cultures and demonstrate the power of literature and the arts to bring people together.”

Rich Levy, Executive Director, Inprint said, “Inprint is delighted to join with Teamwork Arts and Asia Society Texas Center to stage this 2021 virtual edition of JLF Houston. From the vantage point of the written word and this diverse, inclusive city, JLF Houston is a valuable addition to our cultural and intellectual landscape.”

The festival will feature British historian and writer Adam Tooze in conversation with economist Shruti Rajagopalan, giving us a panoramic view of the continued impact of 2020 and the deeply rooted ruptures in our way of being. His latest book, Shutdown: How Covid Shook the World’s Economy, is a staggering and incisive take on the interplay of globalization, world politics, economy, and climate change.

With extraordinary detail and intricacy, author and analyst Kim Ghattas’ book Black Wave: Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Forty-Year Rivalry That Unraveled Culture, Religion, and Collective Memory in the Middle East is a gripping narrative weaving together history, geopolitics, and culture to present a comprehensive analysis of the Middle East. At the session, the author will unfold a fascinating cast of characters whose lives were severely impacted by the geopolitical contours of the region. Ghattas will be in conversation with journalist Seema Sirohi.

Taking the sessions forward, Texas Poet Laureate, activist, and poet Lupe Mendez will be in conversation with award-winning poet Analicia Sotelo. Mendez’s powerful poetry collection,  Why I Am Like Tequila, is a pulsating journey covering birth, family, and community. Illuminating the Texas Chicanx experience both past and present, Mendez will shift between narrative, dramatic, and lyrical poems to give us a glimpse into his life, heritage, and identity.

At another session American investigative journalists and authors Katherine Eban and Patrick Radden Keefe will be in conversation with Festival Producer and Managing Director at Teamwork Arts, Sanjoy K. Roy. Eban’s shocking expose, Bottle of Lies: The Inside Story of the Generic Drug Boom, follows the nuances of generic-drug manufacturing and the attendant risks for global health. Radden Keefe’s explosive new book, Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty, traces the family’s role in the OxyContin epidemic. Intertwining corporate avarice and the intergenerational empire behind the opioid crisis in America, the session unravels the infestation seeped into the pharmaceutical industry.

Lebanese-American painter and writer Rabih Alameddine’s latest novel, The Wrong End of the Telescope, is a kaleidoscopic rendering of the many aspects of the refugee crisis sweeping across the Mediterranean. In a session that evaluates the experience of alienation, displacement, and the search for home, Alameddine will navigate through the complex tapestry of tragic circumstances and resilience in the midst of one of the world’s largest humanitarian  crises, in conversation with journalist and former civil rights lawyer Alia Malek.

At the next session, celebrated Indian producer and director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra will explore memory, creativity, and reminiscence, with reference to his memoir, The Stranger in the Mirror, co-written with Reeta Ramamurthy Gupta. The book follows the journey of a master storyteller and his work around some of the most successful movies of Bollywood such as Rang De Basanti, Delhi-6, and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. He will be in conversation with Sanjoy K. Roy.

A riveting session in which a stellar panel will celebrate the extraordinary life of the legendary Bengali poet and playwright Michael Madhusudan Dutt, exploring his international sensibilities, along with his intense, deep-rooted engagement with Bangla, along with exploring questions of identity, linguistic nationalism, and innovation. The panel will be graced by actor, director, producer, and writer Vinita Sud Belani, author of several critically acclaimed novels Kunal Basu, academic and activist Firdous Azim, and poet, women’s rights advocate, and Co-founder, Producer, and Director of Dhaka Literary Festival Sadaf Saaz.

The Mahabharata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India. Celebrated Indian women authors Namita Gokhale, Ira Mukhoty, and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni will be in conversation with television anchor, radio broadcaster, and music critic Sunit Tandon, in a 2powerful session that pays tribute to the women of the Mahabharata, as they argue, plead, reason, and rise from the embers of the grand epic that often focuses only on heroic men.