Karachi Literature Festival (KLF) being held
A large number of literary and intellectual luminaries from Pakistan and overseas will be participating in the coming Karachi Literature Festival (KLF) being held in town from February 15 to 17 at a local hotel, under the joint aegis of the British Council and the Oxfort University Press-Pakistan.
Among those participating will be celebrated Indian poet Gulzar.
This was announced by the managing director of the Oxford University Press (OUP) Pakistan, Ameena Saiyid, at a press conference at the Arts Council, which was meant to be a curtain raiser on the three-day Fourth Karachi Literature Festival.
She said that while at the 2012 KLF there were 142 speakers and eight books were launched, at the 2013 event, there were expected to be 200 speakers and 20 books would be launched.
“Based on age-old literary and cultural histories as well as the creative opportunities of the moment, the Karachi Literature Festival draws upon this dynamism by bringing together writers and poets, scholars and academics from a diversity of cultures, languages, academic disciplines and intellectual traditions to create an opportunity for cultural dialogue and exchange through celebration of writing and books,” she said.
Perhaps the most important and imposing person to be at the coming festival is former British Labour MP George Galloway, who is noted especially for the way he stood up to the then UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and dared oppose his pro-US policies, particularly the bull-headed invasion of Iraq by the US.
Among others will be Ila Arun (“Choli ke peechey kia hai” fame) from India; Italian writer Lorenza Raponi, author of the book on the Edhis, titled, “Half of two paisas”; Russian speakers V Y Belokrenitsky, Sergey Kamanev, and Andrey Demidov, who incidentally is also the Russian consul-general in Karachi; famous lyricist Gulzar from India; Shobha De from India; Amjad Islam Amjad from Pakistan; Tehmina Khar from Pakistan; and Najam Sethi from Pakistan.
Children are likely to be accorded special treatment at the coming KLF as there will be a parallel children’s literature festival along the sidelines of the regular one.
“Through dialogue and discussion, readings and renderings, we intend to create an intellectual space in which the diversity and pluralism in Pakistan’s society is expressed by authors both from within Pakistan’s borders and beyond,” said Saiyid.
She said that the KLF this year would also feature a Palestinian author, Dr Izzedin Abuleissh, who lost all three of his daughters simultaneously to bombing.
KLF co-founder Dr Asif Iqbal Farrukhi said, “The KLF has become an exciting opportunity, the only one of its kind. It brings news in trends of new writing the world over and highlights social and cultural issues. It also serves an equally important function of showcasing the best of creative writing in Pakistan.”
Arts Council President Ahmed Shah lauded the efforts of the KLF organisers. He said that initiatives like the Karachi Literature Festival would go a long way in fostering a positive image of Karachi and Pakistan.
Dr Manuel Neghwar, Director, Goethe-Institut (one of the co-sponsors of the festival), said, “We not only bring a lot but we also learn a lot. This year we will be bringing two German authors who will provide a window on German society. The festival will bring Pakistan and Germany closer.”
The Karachi Literature Festival will be held at a local hotel from February 15.
The three-day event would be held under the auspices of the Oxford University Press (OUP), Pakistan. This was announced by the Managing Director of OUP Pakistan, Ameena Saiyid. She was addressing a news conference along with the President of the Arts Council of Pakistan, Karachi, Ahmed Shah, and literary critic, Asif Farrukhi.
“Through dialogue and discussion, readings and renderings, we intend to create an intellectual space in which the diversity and pluralism in Pakistan’s society is expressed by authors from traditions both within and beyond Pakistan’s borders,” Ameena said.
It was pointed out that the celebrated novelist, Nadeem Aslam and the poet, Gulzar, will be the keynote speakers at the inauguration of the festival.
The closing speech will be by the well-known British politician and journalist, MP George Galloway. The festival will feature a stellar cast of literary luminaries, writers, poets, scholars, academics, and intellectuals.
Ameena Saiyid observed that “based on age-old literary and cultural histories as well as the creative opportunities of the moment, the Karachi Literature Festival draws upon this dynamism by bringing together writers and poets, scholars and academics from a diversity of cultures, languages, academic disciplines and intellectual traditions to create an opportunity for cultural dialogue and exchange through celebration of writing and books.”
Co-founder of KLF, Asif Farrukhi said, “KLF has become an exciting opportunity, the only one of its kind. It brings news of trends in new writing the world over and highlights social and cultural issues. At the same time, it also serves an equally important function of showcasing and highlighting the best of new writing in Pakistan. Looking in two directions at the same time, this is to me the most exciting part of KLF.”
President, The Arts Council of Pakistan, Karachi, Ahmed Shah lauded the efforts of KLF organisers.
He said that initiatives such as the KLF help build a positive image of Karachi and Pakistan. Amidst the challenges of today, the Festival so far has been successful in attracting the literati and commoner from Karachi and the region. It is a direct reflection of the Karachiites and their love for arts. This time KLF will include launches of numerous books. Another unique feature of this year’s KLF will be the ‘Poetry Bazar’ where an opportunity would be given to promising poets to read out their work to an audience of poetry lovers as well as well-known poets.
Similarly, ‘Writers Club’ will help young aspiring writers to get over mental blocks, learn techniques of scene, drama, dialogue through workshops and discussion with masters of the art of creative writing.
This was announced by Oxford University Press managing director Ameena Saiyid at a press conference at the Arts Council Karachi on Wednesday.
She gave a presentation which began with a brief overview of last year’s festival. She said 142 speakers, including Hanif Kureishi, Vikram Seth and William Dalrymple, took part in the event in 2012 while 50 sessions and eight book launches were held. This year an even bigger lineup was awaiting book lovers.
Ms Saiyid said eminent poet and film director Gulzar, singer Ila Arun, critic Shamim Hanafi and writer Shobhaa De would represent the India contingent. For the first time in the history of the festival writers and scholars from Russia (V. Y. Belokrenitsky, Andrey Demidov) would be seen airing views on their areas of interest. Silvia Di Netale and Kanize Mourad from France, Nadeem Aslam, George Galloway and Lemn Sissay from England, Yassin Musharbash from Germany, Lorenza Raponi from Italy and Izzeldin Abuelaish from Palestine (whose three daughters were simultaneously killed in Palestine) among others would address the audience and partake in panel discussions.
From Pakistan, Ms Saiyid said, Tehmina Durrani would speak about her books and special sessions with writer Initzar Husain (recently nominated for the International Booker prize) were the highlights of the festival. Dr Hamida Khuhro’s ‘A children’s history of the Punjab’ would be among the books to be launched. Apart from that many a programme for children had been arranged such as theatrical shows by artist Khaled Anam, puppet shows, storytelling sessions etc.
She said unlike the previous three editions of the festival, this time it would be a three-day event instead of spanning just two days. She said the reason for changing the venue was that it was more accessible to the public and public transport facility was better in the area.
Asif Farrukhi, the co-founder of the festival, said that last night he received a call from an eminent writer who quizzed him that why the festival was being organised despite the volatile situation in Karachi. He said the event was not a kind of luxury; rather it signified the importance of literature and literary pursuits and was the best way to resist forces of intolerance.
He pointed out certain ‘firsts’ which would be happening during the event. For example, a session with renowned Sindhi author Amar Jaleel (who does not usually take part in such activities) was lined up as well as the launch of a book by Hasan Dars, who passed away last year. He said Mehr Afshan Farooqi would be coming to the festival for the first time from the United States. As for Pakistani authors, he mentioned the names of Abdullah Husain, Mirza Ather Baig, Initzar Husain and Amjad Islam Amjad.
Director Goethe Institut Karachi Dr Manuel Negwar said he had been part of the third Karachi Literature Festival and was impressed by the quality participants and audiences. He said the event was a good platform for exchanging ideas. He touched on a couple of novelists from Germany who would be part of the international lineup of writers at the fourth Karachi Literature Festival.
Earlier, Arts Council president Ahmed Shah welcomed the guests.