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—Photo by Nadir Siddiqui/

KARACHI: Despite an unexpected pull-out of distinguished Indian poet and filmmaker Gulzar, the three-day fourth Karachi Literature Festival beginning at the Beach Luxury Hotel on Friday promises a lot for the country’s book lovers and art buffs. (Click here for an exclusive coverage of the festival)

Like the previous three editions of the festival, this year too intellectually stimulating sessions with a galaxy of internationally renowned writers, authors and performing artistes are in store.

Ever since its inception in 2010, the Karachi Literature Festival has assumed a significant position in the cultural space of the country. If on the one hand it has successfully managed to dispel the notion that Pakistan in general and Karachi in particular cannot host international events, on the other it has provided book loving Pakistanis to see, hear, meet and interact with writers of high merit.

The change of venue this year is a welcome sign. It is a bigger venue and is accessible to all kinds of book lovers, including those who travel by public transport.

The event features many sessions and book launches, along with theatrical presentations and a children’s literature festival.

The highlight of the first day will be the keynote address by novelist Nadeem Aslam.

Discussions on contemporary English literature with respect to reality and kitsch; Ghalib’s relevance to today’s world; and cricket and cricket writing will follow. This will happen alongside some important book launches.

Sindhi poet the late Hasan Dars’s book will be launched as will be Nadeem Aslam’s new novel A Blind Man’s Garden.

An interesting session titled Mantoiyat: Dastangoi is slated for the latter part of the day.

The second day will witness a discussion on the fall and rise of Pakistani cinema and on the world of theatre. A session on Karachi writings will happen simultaneously. The launch of a book by Mohammed Hanif titled The Baloch Who is not Missing and Others Who Are will take place in the first half of the day.

The second half will feature a conversation with writer Mohsin Hamid and a session on social satire hosted by Nadeem Farooq Paracha.

A discussion on Afghanistan, a mushaira and a conversation with Farrukh Dhondy are also likely to generate interest.

The final day will commence with discussions on dynastic politics, secularism in Pakistan, dramatic reading from Intizar Husain’s play Pani Ke Qaidi followed by a conversation with Najam Sethi, a press conference by George Galloway, a session on the dynamics of Karachi and an exchange of ideas on Urdu ghazal and dastaan between Zehra Nigah and Intizar Husain.

The highlight of the second half of the day will be a press conference by Palestinian writer Izzeldin Abuelaish followed by a session on folk music. George Galloway will deliver the closing speech on Sunday evening.