Jaipur: William Dalrymple is one of those personalities whose twinkling blue eyes and easy going nature make him a journalist’s delight. Even after achieving tremendous success as an author with praiseworthy books like ‘Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India’ which went to the number one slot on the Indian non-fiction section bestseller list, the prominent British author and art historian has his feet on the ground. On Day 1 of the Jaipur Literature Festival 2013, Resham Sengar of Zeenews.com managed to have a quick chat with William Dalrymple who also happens to be the festival’s co-director. Read on to know what he said about being related to Virginia Woolf, his favorite authors and India as his home.
Your father Sir Hew Hamilton Dalrymple, the 10th baronet, was a cousin of one of the greatest authors in the history of English literature – Virginia Woolf. How does that connection with Ms. Woolf make you feel?
I am big fan of Virginia and I am very proud of having that in my blood. (Smiles)
Do you think that the DSC Jaipur Literature Festival has managed to serve its purpose ever since its inception?
Well as you can see – everyone’s enjoying it. The footfall has doubled: we went from 30,000 to 60,000 and 1,20,000 last year. Our advance registrations have doubled this year. So God knows how many visitors will turn up. (Laughs)
Much like your other historical literary works, your new book ‘Return of a King – The Battle of Afghanistan’ has been getting nice reviews from the critics. How does that make you feel?
Well if you spend five years on a book then a ‘good’ definitely makes you happy. I read a good one in the Guardian newspaper and I was pleased with it.
What are the emerging literary genres at the Jaipur Literature Festival this year?
As you know that the Jaipur Literature Festival covers all genres and variety of literature. We have the non-fiction category shining through the festival this year. And I am looking forward to listen to the non-fiction writers.
Which living literary figure do you admire the most?
Among the South Asian writers at the moment I like Daniyal Mueenuddin. Of historians, I like reading Simon Michael Schama. I also like Cormac McCarthy among the novelists category.
The so-called chick-lit genre is a growing category in fiction writing. But surprisingly chick-lit writers are rarely seen at the Jaipur Literature Festival. Can you comment on that?
We normally do have one or two chick lit writers every year. We have had international chick lit writers like Candace Bushnell in our earlier editions and we had Oprah Winfrey last year.
What made you choose India as your half home?
Half home? India is my home. I spend 10 months every year here. I have been here for 30 years and now I don’t even remember why I came here. (Laughs)