Literature festival begins on 20th
By Peerzada Salman
KARACHI: A two-day event aimed at promoting literature will begin here on March 20, organisers announced on Wednesday.
Speaking at a press conference, the organisers – the British Council and the Oxford University Press – briefed mediamen about the background to the literature festival.
OUP’s Ameena Saiyid said Pakistan had a number of good authors and researchers but their works were not being recognised the way they merited.
She said while being at events like the Jaipur Literature Festival and the Galle Literature Festival, she witnessed how writers and researchers earned respect and recognition throughout the world. Such events became the genesis for the idea of the Karachi Literary Festival and she was ably supported by writer Asif Farrukhi and the British Council’s Mashhood Rizvi in materialising the concept.
Talking about the benefits of such an event, Ms Saiyid said that the festival would help people interact with esteemed writers and develop the culture of book reading.
She said of late Pakistani authors had made it big internationally and Mohsin Hamid and Daniyal Mueenuddin had been shortlisted for prestigious literary awards. She added the Jaipur Literature Festival began on a smaller scale but subsequently expanded to a larger level. There a businessman announced that he would institute a $50,000 award for the best literary work from South Asia; Pakistan also needed a similar incentive.
British Council Director Mashhood Rizvi said the council’s contribution to the festival was immense because it wanted to be known as a cultural organisation. He said people thought that the way to connect with one another globally was through trade, commerce and information technology, but in reality societies got connected through literature and languages. “Pakistan’s youth must get the opportunity to express itself and expression needed space. Such occasions provide them with space,” he said, and added that the council and OUP’s collaborative effort would try and make the festival bigger than its Jaipur counterpart, though that’s not the aim. He said the event would be held annually.
Speaking at the press conference, founding member of the Karachi Literature Festival Asif Farrukhi said the idea behind the event was to create space for various forms of discussions and literary activities. He said the three key words (Karachi, literature and festival) denoted three important aspects: Karachi is a cosmopolitan, polyglot city and has produced giants in the world of literature; literature that’s imaginative and relates to the social sciences; to celebrate creativity with a festive air.
He then informed journalists about the different programmes (panel discussions, conversations, book launches, book signings, poetry symposium and dance & theatre by Tehreek-i-Niswan) that were lined up for the two days of the festival. While doing that, he put emphasis on the fact that renowned author Shamsur Rahman Farooqi, poet Zulfikar Ghose, writers Aamer Hussein, Bapsi Sidhwa and poetess Zehra Nigah would also take part in the two-day programme.