- File photo

KARACHI: This time round, it’s bigger. People will not only get to hear and meet writers, but will also be able to see films at the 3rd Karachi Literature Festival on Feb 11 and 12.

This was announced by the founder of the festival, Oxford University Press (OUP) Managing Director Ameena Saiyid, at a press conference at the OUP office on Thursday.

She was accompanied on the dais by writer Asif Farrukhi and the British Council’s Martin Fryer and Shreela Ghosh.

Ms Saiyid said the 2012 edition of the festival would be more exciting and diverse as some new things were added to the list of programmes. She said there was a big lineup of writers. In one-on-one sessions, they would talk about their books and other subjects. Alongside the book-related events and sessions arranged for children, films would be screened, including two from Bangladesh (Meherjaan and A Certain Liberation) and one from India (Harun Arun). Clips from the Oscar-nominated documentary, Saving Face, made by Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, too, would be shown.

Ms Saiyid dubbed the festival a celebration of writing and writers and informed the media about the consulates who had sponsored authors. She mentioned the support lent by the US Consulate, the German Consulate, the Alliance Francaise and the British Council to the festival.

British Council Programmes Director Martin Fryer said it was in 2009 that his predecessor was invited by Ameena Saiyid and Asif Farrukhi to take part in the event. There was a twinkle in their eyes, and two years on the festival had become an important event, he said.

He added that it was remarkable how in the span of two days the organisers were able to put so much in.

Commenting on Pakistani writings in English, he said they were dynamic and the festival (an embarrassment of riches) provided a window to the international community to see that. He said since this year was the 200th birth anniversary of Charles Dickens, two of British theatre groups Punch Drunk and Arcola would conduct a theatrical session on Dickens.

Shreela Ghosh, Director Arts for Wider South Asia, British Council, highlighted the fact that different literature festivals had preceded Karachi’s (Dhaka, Galle and Jaipur) and argued such events were important because people got to learn from each other and know about one another’s cultures. She said the region had a strong literary tradition. The festival may be exhausting, it would be glorious nonetheless, she concluded.

Asif Farrukhi lamented the fact that some authors were left out because of not enough room, but felt elated at the prospect that many Pakistani books written in English, Urdu, Sindhi, Punjabi, Balochi, Pushto and Saraiki would feature in the festival.

He mentioned Ahmed Fawad (from the Swat valley) and Amar Sindhu (from Hyderabad) as two of the notable writers.

Replying to a question, Ms Saiyid said though getting together of the authors was the main feature, debate and dialogue on important topics were no less significant part of the festival.

Mr Farrukhi told the media that since 2012 was Sadat Hasan Manto’s birth centenary and Nazir Ahmed’s death centenary, their relevance to modern times would be discussed in sessions on them.


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