The sixth edition of Dhaka Lit Fest was inaugurated yesterday in the capital's Bangla Academy, with expectation that literary knowledge will be shared between a host of local and international authors.
Nobel Prize-winning writer Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul inaugurated the three-day festival formally by cutting a ribbon, an act, he said, he had done only once before in his literary career.
“That was for a local function in a solitary area for a friend of mine,” Naipaul, aged 84, shared the anecdote with the audience, sitting on a wheelchair.
Last time he had cut the ribbon very fast and organisers rebuked him, saying he was meant to kill a little time on stage before doing so.
“But I hadn't thought of that. Nobody had told me what to do.
“Now I have done this for Dhaka fest. And I'm very happy to have done so,” Naipaul continued.
The main attraction of the fest, Naipaul will attend a panel discussion, “The writer and the world: VS Naipaul” at Abdul Karim Shahityabisharad Auditorium of Bangla Academy at 5:30pm today, according to the organisers.
Speaking at the inaugural ceremony, Finance Minister AMA Muhith said, “The most important aspect of the fest is that it has expanded our horizon.”
The festival has created an opportunity for Bangladesh to look into world's literature, he added.
It has become a unique literary extravaganza with participation of authors, writers and critics from different countries, said Bangla Academy Director General Prof Shamsuzzaman Khan.
Recently deceased author Syed Shamsul Haq will be honoured through staging of a play based on his short novel “Neel Dongshon” in English, said Anis Ahmed, one of the fest directors.
Cultural Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Noor and festival directors Sadaf Saaz and Ahsan Akbar were present at the inaugural ceremony.
Members of cultural organisation Shurer Dhara rendered Rabindra Sangeet on the stage before the formal inaugural ceremony.
Among literary faces, the fest this year features Pulitzer Prize winner American-Indian poet Vijay Seshadri, 2016 Man Booker Prize winner Deborah Smith and winner of 2014 European Union Prize for Literature Evie Wyld.
More than 200 talents are expected to be joining the event, the organisers said. Of them, 60 are guests from 16 countries.
There will be over 90 sessions featuring cultural programmes, folk performances, poetry recitations, an editing workshop, children's programme and film screenings.
The fest will also feature Bangladesh's traditional music -- Jaari Gaan, Behula Lokhindar and Pala Gaan -- to highlight the country's rich culture and history.
The organisers said entry to the festival would require no ticket, but registration should be done at the entrance or through www.dhakalitfest.com.
The Lit Fest is organised by Jatrik, with Bangla Academy as the co-host and the Ministry of Cultural Affairs as the special partner.