Dhaka Lit Fest (DLF) is the biggest English language literature festival in Bangladesh bringing together international and local writers for a 3-day long literary festival.
International events like the DLF can help elevate the image of Bangladesh in the global literary circle, said speakers at a roundtable titled “Literature for All” on Saturday.
It was organised by Bangla Tribune and moderated by Ekattor TV host Mithila Farzana, with writers, poets, researchers, prominent intellectuals as well as DLF organisers discussing the importance of events like these and the DLF model.
DLF Director and Dhaka Tribune publisher Kazi Anis Ahmed, DLF Director Sadaf Saaz, Poet Kaiser Haq, Masuda Bhatti, writer Papri Rahman and Audity Falguni took part in the discussion.
In response to a question from the moderator, asking if literature is only for the privileged few, Bangla Academy General Director Shamsuzzaman Khan said: “Early on we did not see much excitement over the Lit Fest. But the people who do come bring great passion and bring their friends and by word of mouth this is slowly becoming a global event.”
He said DLF features many aspects of our folk culture and with a good translator many Bengali writers can win the Nobel Prize.
When asked if DLF is for the mainstream Bangla readers, DLF Director Sadaf Saaz said: “We are bringing the world to Bangladesh and bringing Bangladesh to the world.”
“But we do not think DLF is only about western literature because we wanted to make it an international literary event. The debates during the Fest are integral to critical discussions about current issues, a platform we desperately need,” she added.
In her speech, Sadaf Saaz said every year DLF is getting bigger and more successful and this year Nobel laureate VS Naipaul is coming to Bangladesh for the first time.
K Anis Ahmed spoke at the discussion about the arrangement of the Lit Fest, saying: “We read and absorb global literature, so why shouldn’t we put in the effort to take our literature to a global audience. This event is building bridges and promoting exchange among literary minds throughout the world and it is gradually increasing in scope.”
“We have strong writers. We lost Syed Shamsul Haq recently. His writings have not been exposed to the world. But many small countries including Somalia and Cambodia, those who have little connection to English horizon, have been able to achieve global recognition.”
“So why is Bangla literature not widespread globally? Because we need easy and simple translations,” he said.
Papri Rahman praised the efforts of DLF for introducing Bangali writers to the world through the Lit Fest.
Adity Falguni spoke of the constructive literary platform created by DLF where prominent writers from around the world participate in sharing their knowledge.
Poet and translator Kaiser Huq said when the fest initially started, it was limited in space and scope which is gradually increasing and being inclusive of everyone wanting to attend.
Masuda Bhatti said many writers from the around the world are coming to Bangladesh.
“This helps us understand their thoughts through their writings and I think, it is important for Bangladeshi writers to participate in the outer world’s literary festivals the same way.”
DLF will hold a press conference on Sunday at 11am at Bangla Academy Dhaka Lit Fest.