The Dhaka Lit Fest will take place at the historic Bangla Academy premises this weekend, November 19-21, with the participation of nearly 250 talented culturally significant figures from around the globe.
The three-day festival will remain open to visitors from 9:30am to 7pm every day, according to the organisers.
A press conference was held at Bangla Academy yesterday afternoon, where festival co-directors Sadaf Saaz Siddiqi, Ahsan Akbar, and Kazi Anis Ahmed highlighted the three-day programme, the schedule for which is available at http://dhakalitfest.com.
This year’s event is being especially anticipated for featuring Nobel Prize Laureate Dr Harold Varmus, cancer researcher and author of The Art and Politics of Science.
Among the roster of speakers, the event will also include: Iconic literary figure Nayantara Sahgal, Pakistani human rights lawyer Asma Jahangir, famed British journalist Jon Snow, bestselling Indian author Shobhaa De, and Indian author Ramachandra Guha.
The festival is set to present a wide array of international talents of diverse origins and genres – top Cuban science fiction writer Yoss, Kenyan children’s author Muthoni Garland, Palestinian poet Ghassan Zaqtan, novelist Amit Chaudhury, poet Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, and acclaimed film-maker Leslee Udwin.
Speakers at the press conference included the Director General of Bangla Academy Shamsuzzaman Khan, Secretary of the Ministry of Cultural Affairs Aktari Mamtaz, Managing Director and CEO of City Bank Sohail RK Hussain, and Editor of the Dhaka Tribune Zafar Sobhan.
Sadaf thanked the Ministry of Cultural Affairs and Bangla Academy for being part of this initiative to promote Bangladeshi literature. “The Dhaka Lit Fest will mark a resurgence in Bangladeshi literary culture, while vigorously engaging other cultures beyond our own borders,” she said.
Ahsan Akbar presented possible highlights from the packed schedule, featuring a smattering of renowned writers: “We are very excited about the line-up this year, which includes living legends like poet Nirmalendu Goon Mohammad Nurul Huda, and Indian poet Arvind Krishna Mehrotra.”
Shamsuzzaman Khan said the initiative taken by the youth has paved the way for a new era in which promising, talented individuals from around the world would come to share their knowledge, saying that the festival seeks to be a part of our culture.
“From the very beginning, through this festival, we aimed to build a bridge between the world and our literature,” according to Kazi Anis, echoing the sentiments of his fellow organisers.
“This initiative will brand Dhaka as a city of culture,” said Sohail RK Hussain.
The festival will also host the launch of a special Bangladesh issue of the world-renowned journal Wasafiri. This is the first time an international literary journal has devoted an entire issue for Bangladeshi writing.
This year will also mark the launch of the Library of Bangladesh by the Dhaka Translation Centre, featuring the English translations of three Bangla works by local authors.
“During the festival, we will listen, we will talk, we will argue, and we will appreciate,” said Zafar Sobhan, Editor of Dhaka Tribune, which is the title sponsor. “In these three days, the festival will represent the very best of Bangladesh.”