Luminaries to attend literature festival in Karachi

KARACHI: “The objective of the event is to pay tribute to our writers, poets, playwrights and authors and to develop people`s interest in reading books,” said Managing Director of Oxford University Press Ameena Saiyid while officially launching the 2nd Karachi Literature Festival at a press conference organised by the British Council and Oxford University Press on the latter`s premises on Monday.The festival will be held on Feb 5 and 6 at the Carlton Hotel.About the genesis of the festival, Ms Saiyid said it was when she attended the Jaipur Literary Festival in 2009 that she asked herself “why can’t we do that in Pakistan since our writers are as good, if not better, as their international counterparts?” She said that’s how the first Karachi Literature Festival came about in 2010 with the help and support of the British Council and writer Asif Farrukhi.She said that in order to engage youth, this time workshops too were being organised for young or budding authors. She told journalists that a luminary like Karen Armstrong would be gracing the festival where her book would also be launched apart from other book launches.Sindh and Balochistan Provincial Director of British Council Syed Mashhood Rizvi said the festival was aligned with the council`s objectives. He said the council was all for providing the youth opportunities to bring about positive social change, to express themselves and bridge the gaps that existed in the world. He said his team was proud of participating in the event and claimed that the participation of youth in the festival put to rest the misconception that the young ones couldn’t be intellectually charged.He said the council wished to work with the OUP and make the event a year-long celebration rather than confined to a couple of days, because literature should be celebrated. He said this time round the US consulate had also come forward and supported the endeavour. He said such events were a ray of hope in uncertain sociopolitical situation.

Asif Farrukhi then told the media about the various programmes planned for the two days. Earlier, he briefly touched upon the fact that Karachi was now becoming a subject matter for literature as a lot of writers were finding it apt for using it as locale in their stories. He said the festival intended to bring people back to book reading.Speaking of the different programmes, he said Karen Armstrong would be the plenary speaker at the event. He said the Texas-based writer, Zulfiqar Ghaus, Bina Shah, Kamila Shamsie, Danial Moinuddin and Mohsin Hamid were among the literati that would be taking part in the festival. From the world of Urdu literature, the participants were luminaries like Intizar Husain, Iftikhar Arif, Sahar Ansari, Zehra Nigah and Asad Mohammad Khan, while writer Mohammad Hanif would moderate a session on “new and emerging writings in Pakistani languages”, he said. On the second day, among other things, Faiz Ahmed Faiz`s poetry would be celebrated and read by Zehra Nigah and Ali Sethi, he said. There would also be sessions on art and theatre, and a performance by pop band Laal, he added.Ameena Saiyid announced that a prize worth Rs100,000 would be given to non-fiction writing in English in 2010, decided by a panel of judges comprising Zubeida Mustafa, Ghazi Salahuddin and Jaffer Ahmed – Dawn