The sixth edition of the Dhaka Lit Fest will have the most diverse set of speakers till date. Just imagine the cluster of speakers from Egypt, a country whose writers are usually left out in international festivals. What could prove the point more aptly that the DLF treats non-white and non-European languages with equal worth?
Nael Eltoukhy, Max Rodenback
and Marcia Lynx Qualey
are the trio from the country. Though different in their literary pursuits, the most exciting aspect about their presence this year will definitely be the unfurling of the conundrum called the Arab Spring; conundrum because our access to it was mostly through the western media, which left us with many grey areas especially as to what happened in the aftermath of the revolution and what still is happening. The violent and non-violent revolutionary protest that spread throughout the countries of the Arab league, is not only a great demonstration of public protest against dictatorship, but also a big part of ongoing wars and historic changes. With three speakers who lived through such a monumental and historic event, we will surely get a realistic picture of the events leading towards the movement and then away from it.
Born in Kuwait, Nael Eltoukhy
is a writer, journalist and translator, based in Cairo. His passion for both Hebrew and Arabic literatures is unique and unparalleled. He believes that Arabic is a language with huge literary potential, if seen from the perspective of its historical development and not how it is generally presented as the Quranic language. Besides translating Hebrew literary works by Israeli writers in his blog Thus Spoke Cohen
, he has written four novels including his latest Women of Karantina
which has garnered high accolades from critics and readers alike.
Marcia Lynx Qualey
is the founder of ArabLit.org, a website that brings together translators, authors, publishers, critics, academics, and readers around discussions on Arabic literature in translation. She works as a book critic for The National, The Guardian, The Chicago Tribune, Qantara, BookWitty, and others. She has worked with the Library of Arabic Literature project (NYU Press), as an editor, speaker, and literary advocate. She is currently at work on an academic project with Adam Talib, called Arabic for Others, a book on using Arabic children's literature in the classroom with Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp.
Following university, where he studied history, Max Rodenbeck took up work as a reporter in the Middle East. In 2000 he joined the staff of The Economist as Middle East bureau chief and for the following 15 years covered the region from Iran to Morocco.