The 11th edition of the annual Karachi Literature Festival (KLF) will be held from Feb 28 to March 1 at the Beach Luxury Hotel.
This was announced by managing director of Oxford University Press Arshad Saeed Husain at a press conference at the Arts Council on Tuesday afternoon.
Mr Husain said the aim of the event when it was incepted was to bring together Pakistani and international writers to promote and encourage literary discourse and debate. This time around it’s the 11th edition. The theme of the festival is: How the written and spoken word connects across borders and results in exchange of ideas and inspiration for literary works, focusing not just on a particular geography but looking at how the written word transcends borders and travels across continents.
Mr Husain said the festival will take place on Feb 28, 29 and March 1. Its advisory board comprises of Muneeza Shamsie, Iftikhar Arif, Salman Tarik Kureshi, Ahmed Shah, Michael Holgate, Bina Shah, Harris Khalique and Mujahid Barelvi. This year the event will feature more than 200 speakers — over 180 Pakistani and 14 international.
Over 180 experts from Pakistan, 14 from abroad to speak at the festival
The participating countries other than Pakistan are the United Kingdom, France, the United States, Germany and Italy. There will be more than 80 sessions and 22 book launches.
Writers William Dalrymple and Zaheda Hina will be the keynote speakers for the opening day, while on the concluding day novelist and political commentator Ahdaf Soueif and Harris Khalique will deliver keynote addresses.
Four prizes will also be given on the occasion in the categories of fiction, nonfiction, Urdu literature, and Sindhi and Balochi literature. He then briefly talked about the various sessions, including panel discussions, interviews, mushairas, film screenings, workshops, art strand and book launches.
Ahmed Shah said the Arts Council always supports literary endeavours, which is why this year it has put its weight behind the prize for Sindhi and Balochi books.
Critic Muneeza Shamsie said she is looking forward to the event. She always enjoys it. It’s a great occasion for audiences to interact with writers. It also brings to us writers who may be very well known abroad but we may not know about them.
One of the things she really likes about the festival is that a lot of people bring their children to it. In that connection, she narrated an anecdote when in Islamabad a young girl met her and asked her [Shamsie] whether she was a poet. She replied that she’s a critic and had already spoken at that function, to which the young girl asked what she spoke about. This is the kind of curiosity that literary festivals instil in children.
The British Council’s director for Sindh and Balochistan Michael Holgate said the council feels that the KLF is a cornerstone of Pakistani cultural calendar, and is proud to be associated with it from the time it was incepted.
Mujahid Barelvi talked about the importance of resistance literature.
Salman Tarik Kureshi said he has been part of the event for the last 11 years. He called it an alimana jashn which people eagerly look forward to.
Raheela Baqai conducted the press conference.
Originally published in Dawn, February 19th, 2020