Our JLF Soneva Fushi 2023 Speakers

Learn more about our distinguished line up of best-selling authors, world-renowned speakers, thought leaders and cultural icons

Indian Pop, Jazz & Playback Singer

Usha Uthup

Usha Uthup has recorded more than a hundred albums throughout her five-decade long career, singing in 17 Indian and eight foreign languages. She has served as a role model for generations of young Indians and has been an unwavering ambassador for traditional Indian values with her signature Kanjeevaram saree and flower in her hair.

Professor & Author

Priyamvada Natarajan

Professor of Astronomy and Physics at Yale University, as well as current director of the Franke Program in Science and the Humanities. With research focused on exploring the dark side of the universe, her groundbreaking work has resulted in several key calculations pertaining to the life cycle of supermassive black holes. She is also a published poet and former scientific columnist for Asian Age.

Festival Co-Director, Historian & Author

William Dalrymple

A bestselling author, including In Xanadu and White Mughals, he is one of the co-founders and a co-director of the Jaipur Literature Festival. His many accolades include the Wolfson Prize for History, the Hemingway, the Kapuscinski, the Thomas Cook and the Duff Cooper Memorial Prize, as well as the Arthur Ross Bronze Medal of the US Council on Foreign Relations and the prestigious President’s Medal by the British Academy.

Author & 2010 Man booker Prize Winner

Howard Jacobson

Author of sixteen novels and seven works of non-fiction, Howard received the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize in 2000 for The Mighty Walzer and in 2013 for Zoo Time, and the 2010 Man Booker Prize for The Finkler Question. He contributes regularly to BBC Radio Four’s A Point of View, and is Honorary Fellow of Downing College, Cambridge, and Visiting Professor at New College of the Humanities, London.

Bollywood Actress

Vidya Balan

Vidya Balan is recognised as the first female shero of modern Hindi cinema, transforming the representation of women in Bollywood and paving the way for younger female actors. She has received numerous awards, including the Padma Shri, a National Film Award and multiple Filmfare and Screen Awards, and is widely known for her support of humanitarian causes and women’s empowerment

Novelist & 2021 Booker Prize Winner

Damon Galgut

Galgut published his first of eight books at the age of eighteen. He was shortlisted for the 2003 Booker Prize in 2003 for The Good Doctor, and in 2010 for In a Strange Room, winning the 2021 award for The Promise. The Good Doctor also won the Commonwealth Writers Prize (Africa Region) in 2003. He has also written several plays which have been performed in South Africa and overseas, as well as short stories.

Judge for Detention of Ukrainian Naval Vessels & Servicemen

Guðmundur Eiríksson

Guðmundur Eiríksson is an Icelandic judge and law professor. He previously served as a legal adviser to the Icelandic Ministry for Foreign Affairs and held the position of Ambassador in Ottawa, Pretoria and New Delhi. He has also served as a judge at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and as a member of the International Law Commission.

Festival Co-Director & Author

Namita Gokhale

Co-founder and co-director of the Jaipur Literature Festival and the author of 21 books, including her latest work, The Blind Matriarch. Recognised for both her writing and her commitment to cross-cultural literary dialogue, she was given the First Centenary National Award for Literature by the Assam Sahitya Sabha in 2017 and the Sahitya Akademi (National Academy of Letters) Award in 2021.

Booker Prize-winning Author

DBC Pierre

The nom de plume of Australian author Peter Warren Finlay. His debut 2003 novel won a Booker and a Whitbread Prize, along with the James Joyce Award and Bollinger Prize. Born in South Australia and raised in Mexico, to where he returned in 2005 to work on a swashbuckling Channel 4 documentary, The Last Aztec. Pierre traced the conquistadors’ path to the doomed Aztec capital while reminiscing on his own wild past.

Acclaimed Travel Essayist & Novelist

Pico Iyer

A celebrated essayist, his work is largely defined by his travels and the cross-pollination of cultures. He has written for the New York Review of Books, the Financial Times and National Geographic and is the author of 16 books, translated into 23 languages, including The Art of Stillness, Autumn Light and A Beginner’s Guide to Japan. His four TED Talks have received 11 million views and counting.

Author & Former Diplomat

Navtej Sarna

The author-columnist served an almost four-decade-long career as a professional diplomat, as India’s Ambassador to the United States, High Commissioner to the UK, Ambassador to Israel and Secretary at the Foreign Ministry. His novels include his 2003 debut We Weren’t Lovers Like That, The Book of Nanak, The Exile, short story collection Winter Evenings, and the recent Crimson Spring, longlisted for the JCB Prize for Literature.

Publisher & Founder of National Poetry Day

William Sieghart

A British publisher and philanthropist, he founded the Forward Prizes for Poetry in 1991 and National Poetry Day in the UK. His many books include The Poetry Pharmacy and The Poetry Pharmacy Returns in the UK, The Poetry Remedy in the US and 100 Prized Poems – 25 years of the Forward Books. In 2016 he was appointed CBE in the New Year’s Honours List for services to public libraries.

Ko Awatea International Excellence Awardee

Sharad Paul

Skin cancer specialist, physician, philanthropist and an adjunct professor at the Auckland University of Technology, and author of The Genetics of Health and Skin: A Biography, as well as numerous works of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and medical textbooks. Given the Ko Awatea International Excellence Award for Leading Health Improvement on a Global Scale, his charity, Baci Foundation provides literacy programmes to disadvantaged children.

Filmmaker, Actor & Padma Shri Awardee

Shekhar Kapur

The multi-award-winning filmmaker, actor, TV presenter and entrepreneur is best known for his films including Masoom and Elizabeth the Golden Age, Bandit Queen and The Four Feathers. As well as executive producing The Guru, and the West End hit musical Bombay Dreams, he set up Virgin Comics and Virgin Animation, and is the President of the Film and Television Institute of India.

Author, Economist & Environmentalist

Sanjeev Sanyal

A writer, economist and environmentalist, he is principal economic adviser to Indian Government and author of several best-selling books, including Land of the Seven Rivers, The Ocean of Churn, India in the Age of Ideas, The Indian Renaissance and Revolutionaries: The Other Story of How India Won Its Freedom. He was awarded the 2007 Eisenhower Fellowship and named a 2010 Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.

Internationally Acclaimed Historian & Author

Peter Frankopan

Professor of Global History at Oxford University, his book The Silk Roads: A New History of the World, was named one of the ‘Books of the Decade’ by The Sunday Times. Its follow-up, The New Silk Roads: The Present and Future of the World, won the Carical Foundation’s Human Sciences prize. His books have been translated into more than 30 languages, and his latest, The Earth Transformed: An Untold History, will be published in 2023.

Filmaker, Poet & Cultural Curator

Muzaffar Ali

A renowned poet, philosopher, filmmaker, cultural curator and textile revivalist. Having begun his career in advertising, he produced cinematic masterpieces such as Umrao Jaan, Anjuman and Gaman. The scion of a Kotwara royal family, his autobiography Zikr: On the Light & Shade of Time offers an insightful look through a filmmaker’s lens at the challenges faced in weaving together India’s rich cultural heritage.

Classicist & World-renowned Scholar

Mary Beard

An English academic and author, and one of the world’s best-known scholars of ancient Rome. Her books include the 2008 Wolfson History Prize-winning Pompeii, the best-selling SPQR and the acclaimed Women & Power. She is a regular media commentator, blogger and documentary maker, including the 2016 BBC series Ultimate Rome: Empire Without Limit. She is a trustee of the British Museum and recipient of countless honours.

The Sunday Times Chief Foreign Correspondent

Christina Lamb

Chief Foreign Correspondent at The Sunday Times and one of Britain’s leading foreign journalists, as well as a bestselling author. She has reported from most of the world’s hotspots, from Afghanistan to Ukraine, and has authored ten books, including Our Bodies, Their Battlefields, and What War Does to Women, and co-wrote I Am Malala with Malala Yousafzai. In 2022 she was named the Foreign Correspondent of the Year.

Creative Director of Oijo Media & Journalist

Pragya Tiwari

Pragya Tiwari is an editor and journalist based has written extensively on politics, identity, policy and culture and edited various publications, including Tehelka, The Big Indian Picture and Vice. She is also the Creative Director of Oijo Media, co-founder of the Indian History Collective and a strategy and culture consultant.

Watch Our Inspiring Sessions from JLF Soneva Fushi 2022

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