Karachi to host its first international literary festival

Karachi to host its first international literary festival

In the recent past, Karachi has been rocked by several deadly bombings and political violence that claimed dozens of lives but that hasn't dampened the spirit of residents, who are looking forward to feasting on the latest works of Urdu and English writers.
The seeds of organising the festival were apparently sown at the annual Jaipur Literary Fest, that has among its directors celebrated author William Dalrymple.

In Pakistan, Mohammed Hanif, the author of the acclaimed "A Case of Exploding Mangoes," will head the show.

"Karachi is a huge city. It probably needs a dozen literary festivals and although there are lots of poetry readings, book launches and an annual Urdu literary conference, it's about time it had an international literary festival," Hanif told the media.

"We want to tell the world that Karachi is not just about what you read in the headlines, there are people here who read and write books," said the reporter-turned-author.
People are showing interest in the festival and Hanif is politely answering queries on his Facebook page with "You are most welcome".

Much before Hanif's "A Case of Exploding Mangoes" became a bestseller, Pakistani authors Mohsin Hamid, Nadeem Aslam and Kamila Shamsie were names to reckon with.

Ali Sethi, at 25, is the youngest to join the list of Pakistani writers who are going places. All of them are expected to take part in the festival.

Oxford University Press in Karachi is organising the event with the support of the British Council."We have got international recognition for some of our writers writing in English, but the Urdu tradition also has such rich literature. A number of our sessions will be in Urdu.

"In the future, it could be that we are also looking at Sindhi and Punjabi writing," said Raheela Fahim Baqai of Oxford University Press.

Though some have attributed the recent success by Pakistanis to liberalisation of the media, Hanif disagrees.

"I don't think lack of freedom ever stopped writers and other creative artists in Pakistan. In fact, some of the best literature in Pakistan has been produced during the worst military dictatorships," he said.

"The boom... is basically half a dozen writers getting published worldwide, winning awards and getting good reviews.

"And because they write in English, in a globalised world they get much more attention than their counterparts writing in Urdu or Punjabi or Pashto.

"But I do hope they are getting this attention, because they are telling some good stories," he said.

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