KARACHI: The 5th Karachi Literature Festival to be held on Feb 7, 8 and 9 at the Beach Luxury Hotel will have 100-plus sessions featuring 200 speakers from 11 countries, announced the founder of the festival and OUP Managing Director Ameena Saiyid at a press conference at a hotel on Friday evening.
Informing the media on the different events that are going to take place during the three-day festival, Ms Saiyid said that all kinds of activities related to literature, including 28 book launching sessions, art and music had been planned.
Rajmohan Gandhi, Kamila Shamsie and Reza Ali Abidi will be the keynote speakers. Special prizes for books in three categories — fiction, non-fiction and books promoting peace — will also be awarded.
While writers and poets from countries like India and the UK have regularly been part of the festival, it’s for the first time that a writer each from Canada and Brazil will be seen at the event. Keynote speaker Mr Gandhi is slated to be in no fewer than three sessions.
A new addition to the packed programmes is a translators’ workshop.
Ms Saiyid said on the national level all four provinces of Pakistan would be fully represented. In this regard, she especially mentioned Baloch literature and landscapes. Classical dancer Nahid Siddiqui would perform on the opening and closing day of the three-day event. Touching upon the growth of the festival over the past five years, she said the first edition was attended by 5,000 people while the fourth in 2013 by 50,000.
Dr Asif Farrukhi, co-founder of the KLF, said the festival had become an annual forum for exchange of ideas and people were becoming increasingly excited and inquisitive about it as they often hounded the organisers to know which writers were coming to the event and which session would be held. He said the festival was ‘our state of the union, state of the mind, of books’.
About the translators’ workshop, he said four experts and two Pakistani resource persons would partake in it. The purpose was to make Pakistani literature get recognition that it deserved. He told the media that a book by renowned Sindhi poet Imdad Husaini, who was present in the hall, would be launched during the festival.
Also present at the press conference, German Consul-General Dr Tilo Klinner announced the three short-listed books promoting peace and harmony. They are: ‘The Thistle and The Drone’ by Akbar Ahmed, ‘Jerusalem – A Journey Back in Time’ by Iftikhar Salahuddin and ‘What’s Wrong with Pakistan’ by Babar Ayaz. Dr Klinner said the literature festival was a lighthouse of hope and aspirations. “You can’t fight a negative narrative with negativity,” he said, while highlighting the need for having a positive counter-narrative for Pakistan.
Critic Muneeza Shamsie announced the short-listed books in the fiction category. They are: ‘The Blind Man’s Garden’ by Nadeem Aslam, ‘Thinner than Skin’ by Uzma Aslam Khan and ‘How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia’ by Mohsin Hamid.
Media person Ghazi Salahuddin announced the short-listed books in the non-fiction category. They are: ‘What’s Wrong with Pakistan’ by Babar Ayaz, ‘The Thistle and the Drone’ by Akbar Ahmed and ‘Pakistan’s Experience with Formal Law’ by Osama Siddique.
Alliance Francaise, Karachi, Director Jean-Francois Chenin, Khalid Wyne of HBL and Ali Habib of NIB Bank also spoke.—By Peerzada Salman