Thoughts from the Curator

‘The question is, can words really mean so many things?”

The Fairway Galle Literary Festival will take place from 24 to 28 January 2018. This stimulating annual event offers an opportunity to hear directly from some of the most exciting creative and analytical voices of the day. In sessions in which creative writers, film makers, journalists, historians and travel writers will delve deeply into questions of origin, motivation and identity, those attending the Festival will be enriched by the range and diversity of the works under discussion. This year’s offerings present an opportunity for reflection on contemporary events and questions through the prisms of history and fiction, while exploring through poetry, the perennial dilemmas of existence. Exhibitions of art and photography and the opportunity to enjoy the delights of culinary innovation and of music in the intimate setting of the Galle Fort will ensure that the Festival offers something for everyone, whether passionate intellectual or casual conversationalist.

Highlights of this year’s Festival will include presentations by The Lord Puttnam, whose 'Chariots of Fire' remains an unparalleled testimony to the power of the human spirit and a striking piece of cinematography and by Shrabani Basu, whose groundbreaking novel 'Victoria and Abdul' has just been made into a major motion picture with Dame Judi Dench in the lead role. And, just as these films enable us to rethink historical stereotypes, the writing of Pankaj Mishra has sparked a lively and challenging global debate on the very nature of our understanding of the historical record. Emeritus Professor Gananath Obeysekere of Princeton University will discuss the journey that led to his reconsidering of the story of the last King of Kandy in “The Doomed King; A Requiem for Sri Vikrama Raja Singha”. A host of highly qualified writers and academics will reconsider the perennial question of the extent to which translation affects our understanding of texts both ancient and modern, in a panel discussion under the banner “Lost Without Translation”. A panel discussion on the future of international politics will pursue the theme, “What’s Right, What’s Left, What’s Next?”

The Fairway Galle Literary Festival recognises the significance of the 400 years since the death of Jane Austen, through the presence of Laaleen Sukhera, whose “Austenistan”, shortly to be released by Bloomsbury, draws parallels between Regency England and modern Pakistan, and includes submissions from women all over the world. Sir Desmond de Silva’s ‘Madam, Where Are Your Mangoes?” - which sold out immediately upon its launch two weeks ago in the UK - chronicles with immense humour and wit, a career of astonishing breadth and significance. Newcomer to the literary scene Kushanava Choudhury’s first book “The Epic City: The World on the Streets of Calcutta”, published this year, has been described by William Dalrymple as marking “the arrival of a new star.”

The world of nature and the nature of humanity receive equal time at this Festival, with Katharine Norbury’s stunningly beautiful and moving travel memoir “The Fish Ladder” detailing her journey following a river to its source and, unexpectedly, to hers. The theme of identity also animates Michael KampfmÜller’s exquisitely written “The Glory of Life”, which brings to life Franz Kafka’s final year, while David Dabydeen will discuss the relationship between the fine arts and writing in his work, especially the role of Turner’s famous painting “Typhoon Coming” in the genesis of his seminal poetic sequence, ‘Slave-Song’.

The Fairway Galle Literary Festival’s Sri Lankan setting is aptly represented by a number of Sri Lankan writers and these include Charulatha Abeysekera, this year’s winner of the Gratiaen Award, Nayomi Munaweera, winner of a State Literary Award and Shankari Chandran, who has been shortlisted for the Fairway National Literary Awards (FNLA). The winners of the FNLA Awards, which recognize literary achievement and excellence in Sinhala, Tamil and English, will be announced at an event that is an important fixture of the Festival.


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