With the final list of programs and speakers at the Dhaka Lit Fest 2017 now revealed, all there is left to do is jot down one’s favourite panels and wait till Thursday. As the three-day long festival comes closer, it is daunting to realise that over 200 littérateurs are attending the festival in over 90 different panels. From Oscar winners to Booker Prize winners, discussions about the Rohingya to #metoo, one may wonder which panels stand out the most. Here are some of the most highlighted panels at this year’s DLF.
The Arab poet will open the inaugural ceremony – alongside the DLF directors and Minister of Cultural Affairs Asaduzzaman Noor – at 11am in the Abdul Karim Sahitya Bisharad Auditorium. He will grace the same stage at 12:15pm-1:30pm with poet and academic Kaiser Haq moderating the panel. A special recitation has been arranged for day two on the lawn from 4:30pm to 5:30pm, where Adonis will be introduced by DLF director Sadaf Saaz.
The first day of the festival will also see Booker Prize winning author Ben Okri talking with Sri Lankan author Ashok Ferrey at the Auditorium from 4:15pm to 5:15pm.
America: Asia’s setting sun
The Economist’s columnist Dominic Ziegler, journalist Michael Vatikiotis, author Lawrence Osborne and professor Jeff Kingston will sit down with Zafar Sobhan, editor of the Dhaka Tribune, to weigh in on the land of the free and its reach to borders far beyond. This panel will take place at the Vaskar Novera Exihibition Hall from 4:15pm as well.
A past divided
Day one will also have scholars come together at 6:45pm, with speakers Ananya Kabir, Ali Reaz, Perween Hassan and Taufiqur Rahman Khan, in Poet Shamsur Rahman Seminar Room. Join these experts on South Asian history, politics, secularism and more, with Sarah Shehabuddin moderating the panel.
Whose culture is it, anyway?
The panel, moderated by editor Kelly Falconer, will present authors Lionel Shriver, Lawrence Osborne and K Anis Ahmed, where they will dive into the question of how tethered customs really are. This will take place at the Auditorium on day two from 11:15am to 12:15pm.
Performances as authorship
Day two will also see the Oscar-winning actor Tilda Swinton converse with DLF director and author Ahsan Akbar, at the Auditorium from 12:30pm till 1:30pm, about performance and its underlying powers to converse. On day three from 12:30pm to 2:15pm, the same auditorium will screen the film, The Seasons in Quincy: A tribute to John Berger. Swinton’s readings will accompany this session, introduced by DLF director K Anis Ahmed.
Watch the necessity of the recently popular hashtag trend unfold with Sabina Faiz Rashid, Samia Zaman, Sophia Walker and Bachi Karkaria on day two at the lawn from 2pm to 3pm. This panel will be moderated by one of India’s top journalists, Jyoti Malhotra.
Rohingyas: Landless future
Author of The Rohingyas: Inside Myanmar’s Hidden Genocide, Azeem Ibrahim, along with Ameerah Haq, professor Jeff Kingston, BBC reporter Justin Rowlatt and Zafar Sobhan will join senior journalist Victor Mallet to discuss the issues surrounding the most persecuted minority in the world. The panel will take place at the Cosmic Tent from 4:30pm to 5:30pm on day two.
Women, art and politics
Novelist Esther Freud, actress and author Nandana Sen, poets Bigoa Chuol and Sadaf Saaz join journalist Bee Rowlatt on the last day, in a talk centred around women, art and politics. From 10am till 11am, these incredible women will gather at the Auditorium.
Dhaka University looking back
The same day, professors Firdous Azim, Fakrul Alam, and Syed Manzoorul Islam will take a trip down memory lane with Shamsad Mortuza as they reminisce about Bangladesh’s most renowned university. The panel will begin at 2:30pm at the Poet Shamsur Rahman Seminar Room.
The Gemcon Awards will take place on the first day, at the Auditorium from 5:30pm till 6:30pm. A senior writer will be selected as the winner of the Gemcon Sahitya Puroshkar 2017, valued at Tk8 lakh, from among the shortlisted finalists. Two others will be selected for the Gemcon Young Literary Award, with each receiving Tk1 lakh. The Gemcon Literary Award is the only literary award in Bangladesh with the highest monetary value.
On the last day of the festival, Ahsan Akbar will introduce the Best of Young American Novelists -- Jesse Ball, Catherine Lacey, and Karan Mahajan – with Granta’s Eleanor Chandler and Luke Neima. Granta is one of the most prestigious literary magazines today, and its launch in Bangladesh will take place at the Auditorium from 3:45pm till 4:45pm.
The closing remarks of the Dhaka Lit Fest 2017 will be accompanied on the final day at 5pm by the prize-giving ceremony of the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature. This prize will reward the best piece of fictional writing on South Asia, out of a shortlist of five novels. Minister of Finance AMA Muhith will present the prize to the winner at the Auditorium.