Hay Festival Dhaka 2013 kicks off today, at the grounds of Bangla Academy. It is a great honour to have nearly 50 foreign participants, including personalities like Tariq Ali, Pankaj Mishra, Adhaf Souief, Rosy Boycott and Aamer Hussein. There will also be 200 Bangladeshi authors, poets, journalists, filmmakers, renowned photographers, musicians and cultural and literary personalities in Hay, discussing literature and culture with the international participants.
You will surely be in for a treat if you walk into the Bangla Academy this weekend. The highlights for today include the inaugural session with Tariq Ali, Syed Manzoorul Islam and Adhaf Souief; “Fictions: Words Apart” where Aamer Hussein, Peter Pannke, S.J Harris and Florence Noiville talk with Arunava Sinha about different genres, places and languages, celebrating the diversity of fiction; “Road to Bangladesh” where Qayuum Khan, Afsan Choudhury and Catherine Masud discuss narratives of the Liberation War, marking launch of A Quayum Khan's memoirs, and featuring the Friends of '71 interview documentary by Catherine; “Is there a World Literature?” where Pankaj Mishra, Eliot Weinberger, and Florence Noiville with Kazi Anis Ahmed and “From Words to Screen” where Rahul Bose discusses screenplay writing to films with Amit Ashraf.
But it does not end there, there will also be poetry recitations by Kobita Porishod, “Bangla Shahitto: Adhunikota o Antorjatikota” with Parvez Hossain, Ahmed Mostafa Kamal, Hamim Qaumrul Huq and Abhijit Sen. A special session called “Liberation War Fictions and Memoirs” will discuss women's narratives on '71 written and translated into English, with Niaz Zaman, Nuzhat Choudhury, Syed Badrul Ahsan and Mofidul Hoque.
There will be an adda on graphic novels, Jarigaan and poetry sessions with David Shook, Tishani Doshi, Jerry Pinto, Arundhathi Subramanium and many more.
Bringing new voices writing of Bangladeshi authors writing in English, nearly a dozen books will be launched today by Bengal Foundation, Bengal Lights Books, Daily Star Books and University Publishers Limited. These books are fictions, translations, poetry and non-fiction.
The festival will continue for three days and Friday will bring sessions such as “A Life In Letters” with Tariq Ali with Khademul Islam; “The New South Asia” where Prajwal Parajuly, Samit Basu, Sampurna Chatterji, Janice Pariat and Rimi Chatterjee talk about the contemporary South Asian writing scene; “Shahittokarder Alap” with Syed Shamsul Haq and Hasan Azizul Huq in conversation, with Sajjad Sharif; “Egypt and Beyond” with Ahdaf Soueif and William Sieghart, moderated by Zafar Sobhan; “Partitions; A Visual Representation” which will be the launching of the book of the 3-country project “This Side, That side”, a graphic narrative of Partition with editor Vishwajyoti Ghosh and Bangladesh contributors Syeda Farhana, Khademul Islam and Kaiser Haq; “Measuring Loss” with Romesh Gunesekera, Jerry Pinto, Nadeem Aslam with Sampurna Chatterji, and a session called “Granta - The Best Young Novelists” with Tahmima Anam, Ned Beauman and Ellah Allfrey. There will be also performances by Shadhona and a morning full of programmes dedicated to children among many other exciting panels and sessions.
On Saturday, look out for sessions like “Asia Rising?”, Pankaj Mishra One-on-one with Ahsan Akbar; “Commonwealth Writers Conversation: The Untold Story”, with Razia Iqbal discussing how creative expression can help women speak out about difficult topics and “The Ugly Asian' where Bangla Academy will launch Syed Waliullah's English book.
There are so many more amazing sessions, panels happening in the next three days, with personalities which are one of a kind. The unique energy that Hay is brining will last for three days. We welcome you to be a part of it, and together we will move forward, with creativity and new learning.
Iffat Nawaz is a writer and member of the Hay organising committee.