The seventh edition of Dhaka Literary Festival begins on Thursday on the historic grounds of Bangla Academy in Dhaka.
More than 200 writers, poets, performers, publishers and journalists, representing 24 countries, are taking part in the three-day literary extravaganza.
Paris-based Syrian poet Adonis, considered one of the most influential Arabic poets of modern times, will open the festival at 11:00am. Cultural Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Noor will be present as chief guest. The three directors, Sadaf Saaz, Kazi Anis Ahmed and Ahsan Akbar will also be present at the opening ceremony.
The festival this year will focus on free speech, the plights of the Rohingya community, women’s rights issues and a number of important debates surrounding overarching historical issues, according to the directors.
The lineup this year includes Booker Prize winner Ben Okri, playwright and filmmaker Sir David Hare, eminent Padma Shri-winning poet Nabaneeta Dev Sen, fiction writers Lionel Shriver and Esther Freud, journalists Charles Glass, Dominic Zeigler and Bachi Karkaria, and Oscar-winning British actor Tilda Swinton.
A large number of Bangladeshi writers and artistes including Imdadul Haq Milon, Syed Manzoorul Islam, Helal Hafiz, Selina Hossain, Aly Zaker, Anisul Hoque and Firdous Azim will also take part in numerous panels along with the foreign writers.
The most highlighted event of this edition is the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature which will be announced for the first time in Bangladesh, on the closing day, according to the festival directors.
Winners of the Gemcon Literary Awards, the highest monetary value literary prize in Bangladesh, will be announced on the opening day, they said.
Launch of prestigious British literary magazine Granta in Dhaka will constitute another anticipated event, they added.
Like the previous years, the festival this year, too, will include book launching, cultural performances, children’s sessions, documentary and film screenings, interactive panel discussions and a lot more for literary enthusiasts.
The festival is supported by the Cultural Affairs Ministry and hosted by Bangla Academy. Dhaka Tribune and Bangla Tribune are the title sponsors and Brac Bank is the key sponsor of the event, with Energis as platinum sponsor, Meena Bazar as a gold sponsor, Indian High Commission as premier partner and the British Council as strategic sponsor. The festival is produced by Jatric Productions Ltd.