The Karachi Literature Festival, which was founded in 2010, organized by the Oxford University Press (OUP) is back with its 12th edition. Keeping the precautionary measures due to COVID-19 pandemic this year, the literary festival is entirely being held digitally. Bank of Punjab as a lead sponsor for the event. As per the yearly tradition, Getz Pharma will be giving away literary prizes sponsored by them in the following categories: Urdu Prose, Urdu Poetry and English Fiction.
The theme of this year`s Festival is: Imagining New Frontier. With the focus on ‘Living in a new reality’, the virtual edition of KLF is bringing forth thought-provoking discussionson a world post-Covid pandemic.
Arshad Saeed Husain, the Managing Director of Oxford University Press Pakistan said, “The pandemic has compelled us to imagine new frontiers of medicine, vaccines, digital learning and working from home. The pandemic has brought world closer together to find out of the box creative solutions. Vaccines have been developed in record time, schools have overcome lock downs through technology and use of electronic mediums. We need to re-imagine safe work environment whether in office, home or in schools. The world is already re-structuring delivery methods with digital and blended tools of learning”.
The aims of this Virtual Edition of KLF remain the same as previous KLF’s: to developinteraction between writers, intellectuals, and artists within Pakistan and acrossborders, cultures, and languages, and to nurture and promote books and inculcate the habitof reading. Despite the pandemic, this Virtual Edition ofKLF will continue to put Pakistan on the mapas a country rich in culture, creativity, and exchange of ideas and opinions. KLF bringstogether and celebrates Pakistani and international authors.
The Keynote address was delivered by Vali Nasr, an Iranian-American academic and author specializing in the Middle East and the Islamic world. He served as Dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C. from 2012 to 2019.
The Virtual Karachi Literature Festivalwill be a 3-day event starting on Friday, 26 March and will conclude on Sunday 28, March 2021. It will feature more than 140 speakers including, Zehra Nigah, Tarik Ali, Maleeha Lodhi, Ben Okri, Ahdaf Soueif, Victoria Schofield, Ishrat Hussain,and Anita Weiss to name a few, who are representing 12 different countries i.e. including Pakistan, UK, USA, Australia, Bangladesh, Iran, Egypt, France, Germany, Dubai, India, Kenya. There are 42 sessions with debates / discussions, talks, mushairas (poetry recitals) in both Urduand English, book launches, and readings on subjects such as education, Covid-19,science fiction, and current affairs have been lined up for the Festival.
Victoria Schofield’s book Fragrance of Tears: My Friendship with Benazir Bhutto was launched. There were sessions on Cartooning, Counter-Revolutionary Wave in the Arab World, Anti-Colonialism, conversation with Paul Harding and a dedicated session on Shams Ur Rehman Farooqi, an eminent Urdu laureate.
While the roots of KLF are nourished by the rich traditions of our heritage, KLF will look forward to the future and explore new writings, new trends, and new technologies,and provide a platform for younger authors and scholars.