The curtain fell on the Dhaka Literary Festival 2016 on Saturday with high hopes that love and passion for knowledge, culture and literature would always live on.
“This has been such a fabulous celebration of knowledge, literature, sharing of ideas… it’s a chance to celebrate Bangladesh today through our culture and literature,” said Sadaf Saaz, co-director of the festival, at the closing ceremony at Abdul Karim Sahitya Bisharod auditorium of Bangla Academy.
She said that the three-day event – the largest English literary event in Bangladesh – hosted more than 100 sessions which were visited by over 20,000 people.
“What an amazing three days it has been… the participation of the audiences was incredible,” she said.
Thanking the guests and visitors, she said, “We want the DLF to be a festival for all.”
Zafar Sobhan, editor of the Dhaka Tribune, thanked the DLF directors for successfully organising a marvellous event.
“In a time when the world stands divided over so many issues, the DLF brings together writers and journalists of the highest calibre from all over the world in a celebration,” he said.
The event was also a bridge between Bangladesh and the rest of the world, he added.
Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, founder of Brac, was present at the ceremony as chief guest.
Addressing the ceremony, he said: “Although I have not been able to come to many of the sessions, I understand that it is the best festival in the past six years. It is the largest and most exciting festival that happened in Dhaka in the last three days.”
He also remembered Syed Shamsul Haq, a celebrated Bengali poet and lyricist who passed away in September.
The esteemed foreign guests who attended the festival this year were also happy to see a vibrant literary scene in Bangladesh.
“My face has been hurting because in the past three days I have smiled too much. I smiled at my fellow authors, my incredible organisers, and I smiled while meeting the ordinary Bangladeshi people,” said Catalan writer Carles Torner.
“I have to say, as an author, my life has been in the sitting room. But to be here is a complete revolution for me. I am delighted to be here and I love it.”
Charlie Campbell, captain of the Authors Cricket Club, an Edwardian cricket club of writers that had PG Wodehouse and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as regular members, said: “We need to exchange our ideas more than ever. It has been a wonderful experience to be here.”
British writer Anthony McGowan, who spoke at the panel “Hitchhiker’s Guide to Children’s Literature” along with Daniel Hahn, said: “I want to say it’s been a real pleasure to see what has been taking place in here these days. It is the spirit of joy in the sharing of ideas.”
The third and last day of the festival began with spiritual songs by Neda Shakiba and ended with a tribute to Baul Rob Fakir.
There were panel discussions on novels, poetry, cinema, Arab fiction, translations, genetics, Muslin, women in sports and many more.
This year’s literary congregation witnessed a stellar list of speakers from 18 countries, including Nobel Laureate VS Naipaul, one of the greatest living writers, who attended the festival as the guest of honour.