Every year, the Dhaka Lit Fest brings local and foreign writers together on a common platform. The festival centres on cultural exchange, thus making it clear that literature has no boundaries.
Similarly, this year’s Lit Fest, which is set to start on November 16, will bring together litterateurs and poets from all over the world.
The Bangla Tribune portal hosted its latest Boithoki roundtable in its office in Dhaka on Thursday with a host of noted speakers and writers discussing the festival and its different aspects, as well as its contributions to the development of literary works.
‘Literature has no boundaries’
Speaking at the event, Bangla Tribune Editor Zulfiqer Russel described the festival as a platform where local and foreign writers come together and represent their respective countries.
He said: “Literature has no boundaries. For instance, when a writer from a remote part of Bangladesh writes something, his writing crosses the national borders, thus representing the country at the global level. A foreign writer can represent his or her own nation the same way, with their literarily works transcending frontiers of the country they belong to.”
‘Attending the Dhaka Lit Fest will be a wonderful experience’
“Though called Lit Fest, there will be discussions on science and history as well as various cultural events,” Director of Dhaka Lit Fest, Sadaf Saaz, said.
He added that those who are attending the three-day festival will certainly have a wonderful experience.
The poet said: “Like every year, this year’s Dhaka Lit Fest will feature an array of events. Writers and authors from all around the world will be joining the festival.
“Authors will be launching books, and there will be various events for children, too. You won’t have to spend money to enter the venue as the whole festival is open to all.”
‘Foreign writers always delighted to be invited’
Sharing his experience of inviting foreign writers to the festival, Ahsan Akbar, another director, said foreign writers are always delighted to accept the invitation to visit Bangladesh.
He added: “Whenever we invite a foreign writer or author, their response is almost always positive. Many feel joyous after hearing that they have been invited to visit Bangladesh.
“They are curious about our country and long to explore it.”
About the importance of organising such festivals, Ahsan said foreign writers visited Bangladesh before, but not in a coordinated manner.
“The Lit Fest has given them the opportunity to meet each other, discuss literature and share their stories. This level of personal engagement could not have been possible in Dhaka without the Lit Fest,” he said.
Ahsan added that those who had attended the previous Lit Fests had expressed their interest in attending the next year’s festival, too.
‘I will get to meet my favourite author’
Author Aditi Falguni seemed thrilled to bits after knowing that her favourite author and poet, Ben Okri, is joining the festival this year.
She said: “I cannot express how happy I am. At an early age, I used to read his books at the British Council library. Since then, I have been a big fan of him. So, meeting him in person would be something very special to me.”
Reading out a couple of lines from a novel of the Nigerian author, Aditi said: “He [Ben Okri] is primarily a poet, who has also written fiction. His writing is quite magical.”
Aditi thanked the event’s organisers for creating an opportunity for her to have a glimpse of her favourite author.
‘Local and foreign writers should be given equal importance’
Celebrated writer Anisul Hoque stressed that equal importance should given to both local and foreign writers who are attending the festival.
He said: “Foreign writers who are invited to the Dhaka Lit Fest are greeted very warmly, and they appreciate it, too. I would like to say organisers should accord the same reception to local writers.”
Writers wishing to attend the festival from rural areas should be welcomed the way foreign writers are greeted, Anisul added.
Describing his feelings about the Dhaka Lit Fest, he said: “I like all kinds of festivals. I enjoy it even more if it is a literary festival with an international flavour.”
Dhaka Lit Fest ‘may bring positive effects to the country’
“Now that everyone is busy discussing the topics of capitalism and militancy, organising an event like Dhaka Lit Fest is a positive thing,” said Masuda Bhatti, a poet and executive editor of the Amader Orthoniti.
She said: “To me, the Dhaka Lit Fest is important mainly for two reasons. We are living in an era in which everything is related to money. We talk about militancy and the number of people dying every day, but none talks about literature, which the Dhaka Lit Fest has proudly been upholding.
“As Bangladesh has been negatively presented to the international community over different issues including economic or political ones, our country is being recognised at the global level for its positive aspects like Dhaka Lit Fest.”
‘Dhaka Lit Fest centres on cultural exchange’
Shamim Reza, noted poet and teacher at Jahangirnagar University, said the Dhaka Lit Fest is focused on the sharing and exchanging of different cultures.
“One of the main attractions of the festival is the translation of foreign literature. Readers are now much more enthusiastic about translated texts. As a result, many organisations have been established that have been translating novels into different languages,” he said.