15-21 January 2016 #791

Lit-Fest in Laketown

This year’s Nepal Literature Festival will be held in Pokhara, with hopes of inspiring dialogue through an eclectic exhibition of art

The Nepal Literature Festival returns for its fifth instalment since its inception in 2011, and for the first time it’s being held outside of Kathmandu.

Celebrated as the only international literary event in Nepal, this year’s festivities will take place in the scenic town of Pardi, Pokhara, from 29 January to 1 February. Organised by the Bookworm Foundation, the event in the past has seen participation from renowned international writers including Shobhaa De, Farah Guzhnavi, Ned Beauman, and Vinod Mehta, among others.

This year, participants will get the chance to interact with more than one hundred local and international writers, journalists and politicians throughout the four-day event. More than 30 interactive sessions are scheduled to be held on topics ranging from literature, theatre and art to business, economics and politics. Key speakers include writer Ira Trivedi, literary historian Rakhshanda Jalil, filmmaker Uday Prakash and celebrated screenwriter Javed Akhtar.

More so than previous years, the Festival will showcase a diverse array of speakers and sessions. Events include a discourse on Naya Shakti with politicians Baburam Bhattarai, Gagan Thapa and Ghanshyam Bhusal. Actors Rajesh Hamal and Dayahang Rai will join writer Yagyash to discuss what constitutes a ‘hero’ in Nepali films. Journalist Prashant Jha will be in conversation with Barkha Dutt on her first book, The Unquiet Land: Stories from India’s Fault Lines. 


More diversity this year

To find out more about this year’s event, Nepali Times caught up with Ajit Baral, director of the Festival.

Nepali Times: The festival has been organised since 2011. What is new this year?

Ajit Baral: The festival was more literature-focused in previous years, but the themes for this year are more diverse and will include politics, economics and much else. This is also the first time we are going to organise the festival in Pokhara.

Why did you choose Pokhara as the venue?

There are several reasons. We, the organisers, happen to be from Pokhara and we want to support the fledgling literary movement there. Everything seems to be centralised in Kathmandu and in terms of academic and literary activities, places outside the capital are left out. In fact, Pokhara is an ideal place for a literary festival. It is home to bands like Nepathya and is also known as the city of watercolors – painters love to come here and turn the beautiful scenes into art. Our festival’s venue, I hope, will help the economy recover after a particularly bad year for Nepal.

English language writing in Nepal appears to be limited. What will be the festival’s role in promoting such writing?

Yes, there aren’t a lot of English language writers – probably just five or six are reputed ones. In the festival we hope to identity what has been impeding English-language writing in the country. I hope our festival and its discussions will draw the attention of many aspiring writers to the opportunities for writing here.

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