The seventh edition of the Dhaka Lit Fest (DLF) beginning this November 16 will see a special focus on freedom of speech and women-centric issues, the two major themes of the literary event.
"On free speech, this year we will focus on the phenomenon of fake news and the impact of social media on literary thinking and consumption. Our women's panels this time include 'HerStory', focusing on women breaking new ground, including piloting fighter jets," K Anis Ahmed, a director of the festival, told a media source.
"We will also have a panoply of panels covering literature in both English and Bangla, and a range of other topics from spirituality to global arms trade, a collapsing world order to the plight of the Rohingyas. We are also proud to be launching a special issue with first-time partners Granta magazine. And, of course, thrilled to be the hosts of the coveted DSC Prize award ceremony," Ahmed added
Sadaf Saaz and Ahsan Akbar are the other directors of DLF, to be held at the Bangla Academy in the country's capital.
Over 200 speakers, performers and thinkers, representing 23 countries, will participate in the three-day event, which is free and open to all. Amongst its hundred-plus sessions, the festival will launch the British literary journal Granta in Bangladesh.
The lit fest was called Hay Festival Dhaka from 2011-14 and was renamed as Dhaka Lit Fest from 2015 after the organisers began marching ahead without any affiliations. This year's line-up features a diverse range of creative personalities.
Ahmed said that the organisers expect a bigger-than-ever audience to come out and enjoy the festival and buy more books than ever before. For younger people to come out in even stronger numbers and turn into readers, and embrace a life of thinking and debate.
One of the most significant aspects of this edition of the lit fest is the fact that DSC Prize for South Asian Literature will be announced, for the first time, on the evening of November 18.
"It's a tremendous honour for DLF to be chosen as a host for this prestigious prize. For a country like Bangladesh, where Bangla by far remains the dominant language, a prize like DSC will hold a very special appeal: It may be the only prize, as far as I'm aware, which considers works in translation alongside ones in English. I think Bangladeshi writers and readers will greatly appreciate this dimension of the prize, and take inspiration from it to be part of a cross-cultural discourse even as they keep writing in their own tongue," Ahmed said.
This year's programme will include book launches, film screenings and special performances, and the announcement of winners of the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature and Gemcon Literary Awards, the highest monetary value literary prize in Bangladesh.
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