KARACHI: If you are a fan of Robert Fisk’s erudition and his brusque insights on neo-imperialism, mark your calendars for the fifth edition of Karachi Literature Festival (KLF) to soak up his words of wisdom.
The best-selling author and journalist will be the keynote speaker at the inaugural day of the festival, which will be held at the Beach Luxury Hotel from February 7 till February 9. Apart from Fisk, over 100 Pakistani and 30 international writers will grace the festival, including famous historian Dr Rajmohan Gandhi, a grandson of Mahatma Gandhi.
This was announced by Oxford University Press managing director Ameena Saiyid, who is also the cofounder of the festival, along with literary critic and fiction writer Asif Farrukhi. The programme was announced by the two organisers as they addressed a press conference along with Arts Council of Pakistan president Muhammad Ahmed Shah on Thursday.
The fifth annual KLF will feature writers from eight countries in more than 70 back-to-back sessions spread over three days and will also see the launch of 30 books by renowned authors. “We hope to further build on the traditions and culture of the festival, which is an endeavour to introduce the world to the diversity of Pakistani literature,” remarked Farrukhi. “Perhaps, that is the best way to talk about it – by encouraging reading.”
Saiyid announced that, for the first time in the festival’s history, awards will be given to writers in three different categories. The panel of judges that will decide the winning books include some of Pakistan’s most eminent literati. The non-fiction book of the year award will fetch Rs150,000.
The second category aims to award excellence in English fiction.
The author of the best novel or short story collection will be awarded with an official invitation and a fully sponsored visit to the Paris Book Fair in March 2014. The final award aims to recognise a book that helped promote peace, international understanding and tolerance. The total prize money for this award is worth €3,000.
European envoys, including German ambassador Cyrill Nunn, French ambassador Philippe Thiebaud and Italian consul-general Roberto Franceschinis, have pledged full support and participation to the festival in a bid to promote cultural dialogue between Pakistan and the rest of the world.
German consul-general Dr Tilo Klinner said that the KLF acts as a beacon of hope and such a forum of intellectual discussion deserves global attention. “For around three years now, Germany’s association with the festival has been growing stronger, said Klinner. “By introducing the prestigious German peace prize that was established after the second world war, we wish to recognise authors who strive to curb the divide created by hatred and war.” Around seven writers from Germany will partake in the festival this year.
Franceschinis was also full of praise for the festival, dubbing it as one of the city’s best resources. “I am positive that we will continue to support KLF and its organisers and help them face the challenges that lie ahead.”
Entry to the event, which runs all day long from 10am to 6:30pm over a three-day period, will be free-of-charge. Saiyid concluded that a comprehensive schedule of the sessions will be announced on KLF’s official website by the end of January 2014.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 24th, 2013.