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JLF Houston 2023

Saturday September 16, 2023 10:00 am


Asia Society Texas Center
1370 Southmore Boulevard
Houston, TX 77004 United States
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Join JLF Houston this year as we celebrate the distinct culture, vibrant diversity, and dynamic energy of the Bayou City. We will once again bring forth our signature camaraderie, a caravan of ideas, and the enchanting flow of conversations that make our festival truly incredible!

For more information & to buy tickets, please click here.

10 – 10:45 am
Morning Music
Anirudh Varma Quartet

11 – 11:45 am
Mira Nair: In Her Own Words
Mira Nair in conversation with Sanjoy K. Roy

Award-winning film-maker Mira Nair talks about her cinematic language, the vocabulary of the moving image and her special affinity for literary adaptation. Among her best known films are Mississippi Masala, The Namesake, Monsoon Wedding, and Salaam Bombay! The musical adaptation of Monsoon Wedding recently hit Broadway. In conversation with Sanjoy K. Roy, she discusses her work, world and motivation.


12 – 12:45 pm
Forbidden Pages: Banned, Burned and Censored
Oni K. Blair, Tony Diaz and Salil Tripathi in conversation with Dorcas Hand

Books are dangerous – as dangerous as the often unexpected and subversive ideas they contain. Books can be burned and banned but not the ideas they contain. A session that examines the rationale of banning books across timescapes, social landscapes and how they survive obliteration.

1 – 1:45 pm
The Personal and the Political
Anjan Sundaram in conversation with Salil Tripathi

Award winning journalist Anjan Sundaram’s recent memoir, Breakup: A Marriage in Wartime, is a heartrending account of the personal price that war correspondents pay as they bear witness on the frontlines of humanitarian crimes across the world. Torn between his commitment to his family and his work, Sundaram’s writing evocatively translates his moral dilemmas as he travels through the Central African Republic in a compelling journey of horror and hatred, of compassion and courage. In conversation with author and journalist Salil Tripathi.

2 – 2:45 pm
Independence: The Cusp of Time
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni in conversation with Tayyba Maya Kanwal

Celebrated author Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s recent novel, Independence, is a powerful narrative about the Partition of the Indian subcontinent, decolonization, and sisterhood. A session examining the human cost of ‘Independence’ in the face of the interlinked cultural identities of Bengal and Bangladesh and the devastating consequences of Partition. In conversation with Tayyba Maya Kanwal.

3 – 3:45 pm
Mapping the Heavens: A Journey Through the Cosmos
Priyamvada Natarajan introduced by Sanjoy K Roy

Priyamvada Natarajan is Professor in the department of Physics and Astronomy at Yale University. A cosmologist neck-deep in the mysteries of the universe, noted for her work in mapping dark matter, dark energy and black holes, she literally creates maps of invisible matter. The acclaimed author of Mapping the Heavens: The Radical Scientific Ideas that Reveal the Cosmos takes us on a tour of the ‘greatest hits’ of cosmological discoveries over the past century. Her extraordinary gift for making scientific theory accessible to general audiences and her commitment to developing strategies to enhance numerical and scientific literacy for the public at large make her an ambassador for learning. A fascinating and engrossing session, introduced by Sanjoy K Roy, that gives us insights into the nature of our universe.

4 – 4:45 pm
Here and Elsewhere
Parini Shroff and Aruni Kashyap in conversation with Namita Gokhale

The vibrant and dynamic oeuvre of diasporic writers preserves the rhythm, cadence, and cultural resonance contained within their work, allowing for originality and authenticity. Parini Shroff’s debut novel, The Bandit Queens, is a darkly humorous social commentary on class, power dynamics and the role of women in society. Writer and academic Aruni Kashyap’s books include There is No Good Time for Bad News, His Father’s Disease, and The House With a Thousand Stories. Rooted strongly in the ideas of oppression, relationship and politics, Kashyap’s work lays bare the questions of identity, home and the self. In conversation with Festival Co-Director and writer Namita Gokhale, Shroff and Kashyap discuss polyphonic voices, the plurality of identity, and a sense of belonging found in stories and poems by South Asian writers in the United States.

5 – 5:45 pm
The Poetic Imagination
Aris Kian, Rohan Chhetri and Aruni Kashyap in conversation with Ragini Tharoor Srinivasan

A series of multivocal poetry readings where different rhythms and styles converge in a celebration of imaginative possibility. Houston’s sixth Poet Laureate Aris Kian Brown’s poetry navigates the experiences of black women and the complex relationships of the American south while examining themes of identity, society and the morbid anthropology of violence. Nepali-Indian poet and writer Rohan Chhetri’s work traverses through the contours of language, space and the search for home. Assamese writer and poet Aruni Kashyap’s poetry weaves together nature, relationships and politics to give us an unflinching look at the state of the world. In conversation with academic Ragini Tharoor Srinivasan.