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A note from the directors of Dhaka Lit Fest

  • Published at 01:25 am November 7th, 2018
DLF logo 2018

Like every year, our programme will celebrate diversity and pluralism, other languages and cultures, and the fundamental necessity of free speech

The eighth edition of Dhaka Lit Fest (DLF) will host over 200 speakers, performers and thinkers, continuing our tradition of diverse topics and vibrant discussions. Like every year, our programme will celebrate diversity and pluralism, other languages and cultures, and the fundamental necessity of free speech. It is one of the few issues that we have visited virtually every year, and often with multiple panels. Recent events in Bangladesh, as indeed in the region and around the world, make it ever more urgent for us to keep talking openly about why it is so vital for everyone—not just writers or journalists—to live in societies that hew close to as much permission, not restriction, as possible. Featuring strong women’s voices continues to be a theme, as previous years—from talking about breaking stereotypes to the importance of women’s experiences being reflected in creative expression to being part of the body of testimony documenting injustice and violence against women. 

This year we have the honour—and treat—of hosting several prize-winners, mainly in fiction: Adam Johnson (Pulitzer), Mohammed Hanif (Commonwealth), Philip Hensher (Ondaatje), Richard Beard (PEN/Ackerley) and James Meek (Ondaatje and Orwell Prize in nonfiction). A special highlight of the festival this year will be an appearance by the stalwart of Bangla literature Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay.

From America we have Courtney Hodell, who runs the prestigious Whiting Award. We will host the Cambridge Short Story Prize and Bangladesh’s highest-value literary prize, Gemcon Literary Awards, will also be given at DLF again this year. 

From left, DLF Directors K Anis Ahmed, Sadaf Saaz and Ahsan Akbar Courtesy

We are thrilled to bring back Granta, the most renowned English-language literary magazine, in partnership again to emphasise our interest in the best of global writing. In that same spirit, we will present a stunning array of talent from different corners of the world; including (but hardly limited to), novelists Jaishree Misra, Chandrahas Choudhury, and Olga Grjasnowa; storyteller Sally Pomme Clayton and journalists Nisid Hajari, Patrick Winn and Gwen Robinson, and so many more. 

We are excited to welcome the award-winning actress Manisha Koirala in Bangladesh, who will be talking about her upcoming book, Healed. In addition, we are thrilled to make a strong show of films with Nandita Das launching her much talked about Manto at DLF! And a dear friend of the festival, Tilda Swinton, will be back for a second turn—with new topics, including her lifelong passion: Education. 

Bangladeshi authors will be present in strength, of course, celebrating the established talents, and heralding rising stars. We will bring out, as we do every year, little known real treasures of our folk and indigenous culture, to showcase the vibrancy and creativity of Bangladesh.

We wish to thank all our sponsors, patrons, partners, friends, our host Bangla Academy, and especially the Ministry of Cultural Affairs for their unstinting support. And we want to thank you—our amazing audience—for your energy, enthusiasm, and openness. We are able to take the festival to new heights because of you.

Sadaf Saaz, Ahsan Akbar, K Anis Ahmed

Directors, Dhaka Lit Fest