Renowned historian Ayesha Jalal and fiction writer Mustansar Hussain Tarar will be the keynote speakers on the inaugural day, Feb 10, while American philanthropist Bobby Sager and writer Mohammed Hanif will deliver keynote speeches on the closing day, Feb 12, of the three-day 8th Karachi Literature Festival at the Beach Luxury Hotel.
This was announced by the founder of the event and Managing Director, Oxford University Press, Ameena Saiyid at a press conference on Tuesday.
Ms Saiyid said this year 176 speakers (136 from Pakistan and 40 from 10 other countries) will take part in the festival. It will have 70 sessions, including 18 book launches. Five literary prizes will also be given.
Speaking about the highlights of the festival, Ms Saiyid said authors from countries like India, the Maldives and America will be coming. One of them was Roger Long who is Liaquat Ali Khan’s biographer. From Bangladesh, actress Shabnam will be gracing the occasion with her son; the title of her session is ‘Phool Aur Shabnam’. It is hoped that actor Nadeem will join her. Then there will be sessions on honour killings, climate change and the changed face of Urdu.
Since it is Pakistan’s milestone year — the 70th anniversary of its independence — there will be a good number of sessions on the subcontinent’s partition. Homage will be paid to writer Sibte Hasan and a session on Sheikh Ayaz too is lined up. The TV show Zara Hut Ke will be presented live at the festival. Visual and performing arts will be organised and films, including one on Parween Rehman, will be screened. Apart from that, programmes on Palestine and Syria will be held.
From Bangladesh, actress Shabnam will be gracing the occasion with her son; the title of her session is ‘Phool Aur Shabnam’. It is hoped that actor Nadeem will join her.
Ms Saiyid said a musical evening featuring Saif Samejo, Urdu and English mushairas and readings by Zia Mohyeddin are on the programmes’ list as well.
When the festival began in 2010, said Ms Saiyid, 5,000 people attended it, and last year (2016) the number rose to 175,000. “It has really grown exponentially,” she remarked.
Ms Saiyid said five literary prizes will be given during the three-day event. For the non-fiction prize, the three shortlisted books are Surkh Salam by Kamran Asdar Ali, A Book of Conquest by Manan A. Asif and The Raj at War by Yasmin Khan.
The books shortlisted for the fiction prize are: The Spinner’s Tale by Omar Shahid Hamid, Dear Yasmeen by Sophia Khan and Karachi Raj by Anis Shivani.
For the best book in Urdu, the shortlist includes Kulliyaat by Sarwat Hussain, Urdu Adab Ki Tashkeel-i-Jadeed by Nasir Abbas Nayyar and Dahshat Mein Muhabbat by M. Hameed Shahid. The Italy Reads Pakistan Prize will also be given at the festival.
German Consul-General Rainer Schmiedchen announced the three books shortlisted for the peace prize to be awarded on Feb 11. They are: Purifying the Land of the Pure by Farahnaz Ispahani, The Footprints of Partition by Anam Zakaria and Masculinity, Sexuality and Illegal Migration by Ali Nobil Ahmad.
The co-founder of the festival Dr Asif Farrukhi said Karachi seems to be the mother of all festivals because it ‘triggered off’ other literary festivals.
Responding to a question about the expected Indian participants, Ms Saiyid said invitations have been extended to them, but it all depends on whether they get visas to come to Pakistan.
On May 20, the Karachi Literature Festival will be held in London, said Ms Saiyid.