KARACHI: The 13th edition of the Karachi Literature Festival (KLF) will take place from March 4 (Friday) to March 6 at the Beach Luxury Hotel.

In the three-day event, 65 sessions will be held, participated by more than 200 writers, poets, academics, educationists and scholars representing five countries, announced Oxford University Press (OUP) managing director Arshad Saeed Husain at a press conference at the Karachi Press Club (KPC) on Tuesday evening.

This year’s theme for the festival is ‘Separation, Belonging and Beyond — 75 Years of Pakistan’.

Mr Husain said the last face-to-face festival was held in March 2020, just a week before lockdown. The pandemic hadn’t yet reached Pakistan. “We were the last big public event that happened before the pandemic. Last year, we had to do a hybrid festival. People attended virtually. Some joined us in Karachi. We showed the event live on OUP’s social media platforms. The one thing that we got to know doing that was our ‘reach’ had increased. The entire world was now able to enjoy or participate in the festival. That gave us the idea if we do a face-to-face event and also put it live [on social media], everyone will be able to enjoy it.”

Giving the key highlights of this year’s event, he said it’s the 13th KLF, the inauguration will take place from 4pm to 7pm “but it’s a closed event, on invitation only, not open to the public”.

After 7pm, when the sessions begin, they will be open to the public. “We are going to follow the Covid protocols. The pandemic is not over yet, so only fully vaccinated people will be allowed to attend the festival,” he said.

Mr Husain said there are going to be talks, interviews, panel discussions, book launches, dramatic readings, Urdu mushaira, English poetry recital and qawwalis etc. Seven book prizes will be given at the event, i.e.; Getz Pharma’s KLF fiction prize, Urdu literature prize and Urdu poetry prize. Apart from that, a new award is being introduced to celebrate our regional languages — Sindhi, Balochi, Punjabi and Pashto. “This award is sponsored by the Little Book Company.”

He said more than 200 literary luminaries will be taking part in 65 sessions, representing five countries — Pakistan, the UK, the US, France and New Zealand. Some will be there virtually and some are travelling to Pakistan to participate in the festival.

There will be 20 book launches — 10 Urdu and 10 English books. “Victoria Schofield and Zia Mohyeddin will be the keynote speakers for the opening day. Hanif Kureishi and Sardar Masood Khan will deliver the keynote addresses on the closing day.”

Eminent journalist Ghazi Salahuddin announced the shortlist for the English fiction prize. It was: Betrayal by Omar Shahid Hamid, Little America by Zain Saeed, Rivals by Saad Shafqat and The Verdict by Osman Haneef.

Tanzeem Ul Firdous announced the shortlisted books for the Urdu literature prize. They were: Jadeediat Aur Noabadiyaat by Nasir Abbas Nasir, Dubidha by Asim Bakhshi and Do Minar by Masood Mufti.

Ambreen Hasib Amber announced the shortlist for the Urdu poetry book prize. It was: Bagh-i-Gul-i-Surkh by Iftikhar Arif, Khwab Aatey Huay Sunai Diyey by Saleem Kausar and Hairan Sar-i-Bazaar by Harris Khalique.

Published in Dawn, March 2nd, 2022

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