KARACHI: While efforts have been made in the past few years to project the soft image of Pakistan to the rest of the world by virtue of its music, films and theatre, one event has gradually but surely assumed the importance of a truly international affair whose warmth and vibrancy have captured the attention of the entire world. The reference is to the annual Karachi Literature Festival. A couple of years back, writer Hanif Kureishi, who is known for holding back no punches, expressed his pleasant surprise at the kind of liveliness and dynamism that he witnessed at one of the editions of the festival. It was contrary to the violence-stricken image of Pakistan that the world had been witnessing for long.
The three-day fifth Karachi Literature Festival, which begins today at the Beach Luxury Hotel, promises to be no less lively and fruitful an event than its previous four editions.
More than 200 authors, representing 11 countries, will be seen in action giving talks, taking part in discussions and launching books. The keynote speaker for the inaugural day, Rajmohan Gandhi, is the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi. He is the biographer of his illustrious grandfather and author of many books including ‘Ghaffar Khan: Nonviolent Badshah of the Pakhtuns’. The other keynote speakers are distinguished broadcaster Reza Ali Abidi and eminent novelist Kamila Shamsie.
Among the 28 books that are going to be launched at the festival ‘Punjab: A History from Aurangzeb to Mountbatten’ by Rajmohan Gandhi, ‘The Rest is Silence: Zahurul Akhlaq, Art and Society in Pakistan’ by Roger Connah and ‘Jazeera-i-Sukhanwaran’ by Ghulam Abbas are a few that have already generated a great deal of interest.
A new addition to the scheme of things is a translation workshop. Quite a few experts on the subject will conduct the workshop and it is likely to help translators who wish to truly put Pakistani literature on the global map.
Then celebrated writers such as Mohsin Hamid, Mohammed Hanif and H M Naqvi are there to pull in crowds who have taken to Pakistani English writings in recent times.
It’s thoughtful of the festival organisers that they don’t keep the general mood of the event overly bookish and serious. The sessions featuring celebrities from the world of showbiz has garnered its own fan following, and a lot of people take a keen interest in listening to what their favourite celebrities have to say about art and literature. This year too comedienne Bushra Ansari will be interviewed by actor Ali Saleem and the session is expected to bring smiles to many a face.
Children, keeping with tradition of the festival, will have their separate stand where all kinds of fun activities will be held. Ritz and Grips theatre are there to entertain the little ones, not to mention a host of other activities.
So, all looking set for three days full of books, authors and their admirers!