Plenary: Adonis with Kaiser Haq
Role of poetry is to diffuse perfume against ignorance, fundamentalism – Adonis.
The greatest living poet in Arabic will share his views on poetry, philosophy, writing, fundamentalism, and about his own works that span seven decades, taking him from the small village of al-Qassabin to Paris, where he has lived since the 1950s. His works and influence have been compared to TS Eliot’s in the Anglophone world, and he has won numerous international prizes, including the Goethe Medal in 2001 and the PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature in 2017.
Adonis talks to Kaiser Haq, the leading Bangladeshi poet in English.
The Seasons in Quincy: A Tribute to John Berger
Readings by Tilda Swinton, introduced by K Anis Ahmed
“The Seasons in Quincy: Four Portraits of John Berger” is the result of a five-year project by Tilda Swinton, Colin MacCabe and Christopher Roth to produce a portrait of the progressive late art critic, author, painter, and intellectual John Berger. His best-known work was Ways of Seeing, a book and British TV series that for many redefined the way we understand art. Tilda Swinton will read the words of John Berger, a man who became a mentor and friend to the actress. Introduced by author and co-director of the Dhaka Lit Fest, K Anis Ahmed.
Shadow World: Asian Film Premiere
Introduced by Anadil Hossain
Andrew Feinstein with Dominic Ziegler
DLF is proud to present the Asian premiere of the documentary based on Andrew Feinstein’s critically-acclaimed book ‘The Shadow World: Inside the global arms trade’. This award winning film reveals the corruption, greed, and lies behind covert links within politics, business, the military, intelligence agencies and the arms industry, exposing the secretive world of the global arms trade. Introduced by Bangladeshi producer Anadil Hossain, the screening will be followed by campaigner and writer Andrew Feinstein in conversation with journalist Dominic Ziegler.
Rohingyas: Landless Future
Azeem Ibrahim, Ameerah Haq, Jeff Kingston, Justin Rowlatt and Michael Vatikiotis with Zafar Sobhan
The Rohingyas were deemed the "most persecuted" of peoples even before new purge by the Myanmar army led to the influx of over half a million of them into Bangladesh. If this pattern continues, someday more Rohingyas may come to reside as refugees in Bangladesh than inhabit their traditional Arakan homeland in north-western Myanmar. Can a people survive without a land? What will it take for them to be able to return to their homes? Azeem Ibrahim, author of Rohingyas, and Ameerah Haq, former Under Secretary General of the UN, take up this vexing topic with academics and journalists from the region. Moderated by Zafar Sobhan.
The Historian’s Eye
Opening of William Dalrymple’s photo exhibition
Through a collection of black and white images taken during his travels around the world, the celebrated historian William Dalrymple showcases his rediscovered passion for photography which he pursued in his teenage years, only to be superseded by his greater love: writing. The exhibit of 24 images show a different side to a writer, who happens to be a star on Instagram, and this special show will be inaugurated by the writer-photographer himself, who'll share the story of how it all started.
We need to talk about Shriver
Lionel Shriver with André Naffis-Sahely
Telling other people’s stories is quintessentially what writers do. But what does it mean for fiction if writers must steer clear of experiences that don’t belong to them? Where is the line between appropriation and artistic license? Journalist and author Lionel Shriver talks to poet, critic and translator André Naffis-Sahely about stepping into others’ shoes and trying on their hats.
Mambi and the Forest Fire and NOT YET!
A playful and fun interactive bilingual session by children’s writer Nandana Sen. Suitable for young children up to 8 years.
HerStories: Homegrown Supergirls
Mabia Akhter, Madiha Murshed, Nayma Hoque, Nishat Mazumder and Tamanna-E-Lutfi with Seuty Sabur
Unveiling by Asaduzzaman Noor
HerStory Foundation is launching HerStories: Adventures of Supergirls at Dhaka Lit Fest. Narrators will include writers, illustrators and activists from the HerStories project. Meet the supergirls—Nishat Mazumder (Everest Summiteer), Mabia Akhter (weightlifting champion), Syeda Madiha Murshed (MD of Scholastica Group) and Nayma Haque and Tamanna-E-Lutfi (BAF combat jet pilots). Moderated by Seuty Sabur.
The Famished Road
Ben Okri with Jerry Pinto
Ben Okri is a living legend of contemporary fiction, who has drawn from such diverse influences as Western mythic and fabulist traditions and melded them with his own Nigerian folk narratives to create a form of storytelling that is virtually his own. He captivated the world with his trilogy about the life of Azaro and now readers around the world are dazzled by the unique vision in his fiction, which transcends reality while cutting into its core more deeply than ordinary realism. In conversation with Jerry Pinto.
A Life in Letters
Imdadul Haq Milon
Marks the launch of eminent Bangladeshi writer and poet Imdadul Haq Milon’s Two Novellas by Bengal Lights Books.
From Page to Screen
Sharbari Ahmed with Ikhtisad Ahmed
From the success of her off-Broadway hit ‘Raisins not virgins’, to writing for the drama series Quantico as the first Bangladeshi scriptwriter on a major USA TV series, American-Bangladeshi writer Sharbari Ahmed talks about her journey navigating different mediums to tell stories, with Ikhtisad Ahmed.
Lawrence Osborne with Eleanor Chandler
Hailed as a modern Graham Greene, Lawrence Osborne transports readers to Greece, Morocco, Macau and Cambodia with his “exotic literary thrillers” which explore the deeper, darker side of human nature. He talks to Granta's Eleanor Chandler about his latest novel, Beautiful Animals—a critically acclaimed bestseller in the UK, which, along with several of Osborne’s other works, is currently being adapted for the screen.
Words of Conscience? Poetry and Activism
Nausheen Eusuf, Kaiser Haq and Sophia Walker with Syed Shehzar Doja
At a time when we are desensitized to horrific acts around us, as well as the business of just going about our daily lives, how is it that poems make us stop and think, and remind us of our humanity? How does the craft of poetry render itself to the voice striving for a cause? Poets from different generations and regions ponder on the power of poetry. Kaiser Haq, Nausheen Eusuf and Sophia Walker in conversation with Syed Shehzar Doja.
Marking the launch of Nausheen Eusuf’s debut poetry collection Not Elegy, But Eros and Kaiser Haq’s new edition of Pariah and Other Poems.
The Bengalis: A Race Divided
Sudeep Chakravarti, Kushanava Choudhury, Ikhtisad Ahmed and Ananya Kabir with David Davidar
Bengalis may speak the same language, but are they still one people? They now have their own nation-state in the form of Bangladesh, but reside in plentiful numbers in the Indian states of Bengal, Tripura, and Assam. They also constitute substantial immigrant groups in the US, UK and Europe, Middle East and Asia-Pacific. As one of the earliest colonies of the British Raj, Bengal was also a crucible – though not a beneficiary – of modernity. From famous figures Rabindranath Tagore and Satyajit Ray, to scientist Satyen Bose, entrepreneur Amar Bose, and statesman Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman all came from Bengal. But who are the Bengalis today, and how have political lines led to diverse identities? David Davidar leads the discussion.
Belal Baaquie with Ashok Ferrey
Why is rubber elastic? Why can a gecko climb a wall? Come and find answers to this and a myriad of other puzzles of nature that arise from our daily experiences. Eminent physicist Belal Baaquie talks to mathematician-turned-novelist Ashok Ferry, about the most fascinating principles in science, drawing on biology, mathematics, chemistry and physics to bring light to the most complex and intriguing phenomena.
Mujib: Taking history to the next generation
Radwan Mujib Siddiq, Syed Rashad Imam Tanmoy, Luke Neima and Arzoo Ismail with Jerry Pinto
The Mujib graphic novel series, launching its first English iteration today, uses the ever-accessible medium of visual storytelling to present the unfinished memoirs of Bangladesh’s founding father to a new generation of readers. Publisher Radwan Mujib Siddiq and cartoonist Syed Rashad Imam Tanmoy join Arzoo Ismail, Granta online editor Luke Neima and writer and journalist Jerry Pinto in discussing the importance of new tools of engagement and personal narrative in making history come alive for the next generation.
Marking the launch of the English translation of the graphic novel.
Syria: War Without End
Charles Glass and Azeem Ibrahim with Justin Rowlatt
The Syrian civil war has effectively ended after six very bloody years, with Bashar-al Assad still in place. This harrowing war saw the full depth of modern war crimes, including the use of barrel bombs and chemical weapons. Syria quickly became the site of internecine sectarian rivalry, benefiting the rise of the Islamic State. Even as ISIL is militarily defeated, it is not clear what it will morph into, or what will take its place. Will the Assad regime re-assert control over all of Syria again? Or will Syria turn into another "Somalia" – fractured and fractious? Legendary journalist Charles Glass, author of Syria Burning, is joined by other keen observers in a discussion led by the BBC's Justin Rowlatt.
Sabina Faiz Rashid, Samia Zaman, Sophia Walker and Bachi Karkaria with Jyoti Malhotra
#metoo went viral in October 2017, as thousands of women shared their experiences of sexual harassment and assault. The impetus for this emerged after numerous allegations of sexual misconduct were made against Harvey Weinstein, one of the most powerful men in Hollywood. While many men seemed shocked at the sheer number of women speaking out, women were surprised (or perhaps not!), that men did not know this. How does one tackle the code of silence that protects the rich and powerful? Will anything change with a few trophy ‘convictions’ (be they trial by social media, or other), and is ‘naming and blaming’ the answer? Feminist poet Sophia Walker, film-maker Samia Zaman, researcher Sabina Faiz Rashid and writer and festival director Bachi Karkaria discuss what needs to be done to bring about a meaningful change in the status quo. With journalist Jyoti Malhotra.
Women, Art and Politics
Esther Freud, Nandana Sen, Bigoa Chuol and Sadaf Saaz with Bee Rowlatt
Hate in the form of rising fundamentalism and extremism around the world has been cited by the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights as being a major threat to artistic expression. This normalization of extremist and fundamentalist ideology in the cultural, media and political landscape in all regions of the world, and the embracing of these in mainstream politics is a threat to cultural diversity and dissent. Writers, artists, intellectuals and women are particularly targeted as they are seen as a particular threat to the monolithic structures that these groups want to establish. Actor and novelist Esther Freud, children’s writer and activist Nandana Sen, performance poet and cultural facilitator Bigua Chuol and poet and cultural organizer Sadaf Saaz discuss the challenges ahead for women, with writer and biographer Bee Rowlatt.
David Hare and Asaduzzaman Noor with Iresh Zaker
From putting the role of journalism under the spotlight to presenting contemporary Britain comprehensively, Sir David Hare’s distinguished career has explored an extensive range of issues theatrically. One of the foremost names in the history of Bangladeshi theatre and the nation’s serving Minister of Culture, Asaduzzaman Noor, converses about the art of theatre with the two-time Academy nominated playwright. Moderated by Iresh Zaker.