For 25 years Hay Festival has brought together writers from around the world to debate and share stories at its festival in the staggering beauty of the Welsh Borders. Hay celebrates great writing from poets and scientists, lyricists and comedians, novelists and environmentalists, and the power of great ideas to transform our way of thinking. We believe the exchange of views and meeting of minds that our festivals create inspire revelations personal, political and educational. Hay is, in Bill Clinton’s phrase, ‘The Woodstock of the mind’.
Hay now runs 15 festivals across five continents at which current political thought and the re-imaginings of international writers gathered together cross cultural and genre boundaries and foster the exchange of understanding, mutual respect and ideas.
Hay Festival came to Dhaka for the first time with a pilot event held on 21 November 2011 at the British Council, to rave reviews. This year’s festival will be a three-day literary feast of bilingual panel discussions and author events, featuring Vikram Seth, Syed Shamsul Haq, Nandita Das, Philip Hensher, Kamila Shamsie, Basharat Peer, Zafar Iqbal, Mohammed Hanif, Gillian Clarke, Kaiser Haq, Sharbari Ahmed, Farah Ghuznavi, Shaheen Akhtar, Selina Hussein, Shehan Karunatilaka, Mahmud Rahman, Anis Ahmed, Anisul Hoque, Audity Falguni, Tahmima Anam and others.
The Daily Star is Title Sponsor for this year’s festival, alongside the British Council as the Global Partner, Jatrik as Project Partner and the Bangla Academy as host to the event.
Pre-register on-line for Hay Festival Dhaka, and your tickets will be available for collection before or at the venue.
Participants this year:
- Vikram Seth
- Syed Shamsul Haq
- Nandita Das
- Philip Hensher
- Kamila Shamsie
- Basharat Peer
- Zafar Iqbal
- Mohammed Hanif
- Gillian Clarke
- Kaiser Haq
- Anis Ahmed
- Shehan Karunatilaka
- Mahmud Rahman
- Sharbari Ahmed
- Farah Ghuznavi
- Shaheen Akhtar
- Selina Hussein
- Anisul Hoque
- Audity Falguni
- Tahmima Anam
- and many more
Hay Festival Dhaka in 2011
Following Hay Festival Kerala 2011, visitors were urged to attend a one-day pilot festival in Dhaka, Bangladesh, bringing together writers and thinkers from Bangladesh and Britain to share stories and ideas in the spirit of Rabindranath Tagore in his 150th anniversary year.
The South Asian city was host to a programme of readings, book launches, and literary panels in the grounds of the British Council on the Dhaka University campus.
Over 700 visitors were treated to a series of events that included a lecture by BBC anchor Nik Gowing, a discussion on the art of translation with Welsh writer Jon Gower, and events that celebrated the rich literary heritage of Bangladesh. Well-known Bangladeshi novelists Selina Hossain, Fakrul Alam and Niaz Zaman shared a stage with British and Welsh authors Jon Gower, Tiffany Murray, Andrew Miller and Jan Blake.
Authors read to packed audiences who were eager to share their enthusiasm for books. Many spoke about their love of literature and their excitement at having an international panel of writers with whom they could interact and engage.
At the end of the day, both audience members and writers were left wanting more, and the Hay Festival in 2012 will continue what it has begun here – an important dialogue about books, how they engage with both the historical past and the urgent present, and how Bangladesh, 150 years after the birth of the great poet Rabindranath Tagore, can once again become a centre for world literature.
“This felt like an extraordinary moment and focus for the English language writers in Bangladesh and perhaps for post-1971 Bengali writing too; and it’s a real turning point for the Hay Festival team. We’ve never had such a thrilling debut anywhere. I think we’ve all fallen for the city, and were captivated by the robust intellectual energy and joy of the audiences. At a stroke, it’s leapt up the list of our international priorities and aspirations for development.”
– Peter Florence, Director Hay Festivals
Among those taking part were Tagore translator and litterateur Fakrul Alam, journalists Mahfuz Anam and Lorna Bradbury, Festival Counsellor and novelist Tahmima Anam, writer and columnist Farah Ghuznavi, storyteller Jan Blake, Hay Festival Director Peter Florence, author and publisher Niaz Zaman, bilingual novelists Jon Gower and Syed Manzoorul Islam, British Council Literature Director Susanna Nicklin, literary critic Firdous Azim, cultural activist and researcher Lubna Marium, teaching artist Naila Azad, poet Kaiser Haq, novelists Andrew Miller, Tiffany Murray, Shazia Omar and special guest, leading feminist author Selina Hossain.
The event took place in and around the grounds of The British Council, Fuller Road, Dhaka 1000. Entry to the events was free.