* * *DLF 2017 has a stellar line-up this year: Booker prize-winner Ben Okri, playwright and Oscar-nominated screenwriter David Hare, the great Syrian poet Adonis, British novelist David Szalay, prominent journalist Charles Glass, publishing maven David Davidar, and foremost Rohingya specialist Azeem Ibrahim are just a few of the speakers enriching the event. The most famous face though, will not be a literary one -- you can expect to bump into Academy Award-winning actress Tilda Swinton. So DLF is about literature, but it is not just about literature. It invites English-language writers, yes, but its list of panelists also includes Imdadul Haq Milon and Nirmalendu Goon.
DLF is not, and never was, about profit. In a cynical, business-driven world, it might be hard to believe, but there really is a lot of idealism behind the eventIt really is about, and for, people from all kinds of disciplinary, linguistic, and cultural backgrounds. It is this mix that makes DLF what it is -- a unique, inclusive intellectual celebration for all. There are no barriers here -- anyone can register online free of charge (unlike many festivals around the world), and show up on the day and participate in one, or many, of the various panels. The ignorant, pre-emptive criticisms that the DLF organisers once had to endure are bogus -- DLF is not an English-medium thing or a Bangla-medium thing, it does not disrespect anyone’s culture, and it does not exclude anyone from the discussion. Such divisions are imaginary. DLF, this year more than ever, is about breaking down barriers -- there will be 200 speakers and performers from 24 countries, ranging from the stupendously famous to the totally obscure, with discussion topics ranging from the sublime to the mundane. Finally, DLF is not, and never was, about profit. In a cynical, business-driven world, it might be hard to believe, but there really is a lot of idealism behind the event -- a desire to create and protect a place for free, lively discussions about life, about art, and everything in between. The festival organisers K Anis Ahmed, Sadaf Saaz, and Ahsan Akbar have worked tirelessly to make this wonderful occasion possible, and they deserve our thanks. This newspaper-- the Dhaka Tribune -- is proud to be title sponsor for the event. We hope to see you there. Abak Hussain is Editor, Editorial and Op-Ed, Dhaka Tribune.