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Calling all word players

Fairway Galle Literary Festival January 2018
The Fairway Galle Festival is set in one of the greatest living fortsa
The Fairway Galle Festival is set in one of the greatest living fortsa

As the excitement builds for the nineth year of the 2018 Fairway Galle Literary Festival from January 24 to 28, Juliet Coombe learns in the second announcement of authors just how rich and exciting this year’s event is going to be.

There is already a fantastic buzz in the air from the incredible line up of great writers and personalities coming to the 2018 Fairway Galle Literary Festival, including adventurous writers like Louis De Berniers and world famous actresses Dame Maggie Smith who will be talking about comedy, Sri Lankan fiction writer Ashok Ferry with ‘The Ceaseless Chatter of Demons’ and wonderful memoirs to listen to and talk about. At this years festival you will be entertained by eminent lawyers like Lord De Silva, journalists on a mission, exceptional editors, performance poets, curators, architects, historians and economists.

Prolific fictional writing

The incredibly exciting line up, full of ideas and unique experiences to discuss and learn from is what makes this a must go to five-day festival that is the ultimate word on The Word. Find out for example about: project ‘Austenistan,’ the parallels between Jane Austen and Pakistani society from Laaleen Sukhera, a Pakistani journalist; the end of the jury system in India with Bachi Karkaria, an Indian-Parsi journalist and former Editor of the Times of India; mystical Islamic writings with Bruce Wannell; or the streets of Calcutta from Kaushanava Choudhury, an Indian American reporter and writer. Also find out what it is like to be nudged by Kiryl Rudy, economically speaking; talk to Rachel who knows some of her brother the Uks Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson’s oldest secrets and a bit about hell; rest a little while listening to the piano duet of Ivana Alkovic and Maarten den Hengst or maybe dance to the celebrated contemporary Bangladeshi band, Chirkutt.

Be challenged to ‘man up’ by Carlos Andrés Gomés or even gaze out across the ocean thinking to yourself, ‘water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink,’ then go and see Malcolm Guite; learn about Coco Chanel from Justine Picardie; be horrified about the terrible legacy after the partitioning of India, written about by Nisid Hajari; learn from former Sri Lankan High Commissioner, Nirupama Menon Rao, about the relationship between the two most populous countries on earth; test your hearing skills on three murder trials with Justice Shiranee Tilakawardane; explore the redemptive possibilities of previously oppressive spaces with Calvyn Gilfellan; find out what Kafkaesque really means with Michael Kumpfmüller and his paradoxical sounding new book about Kafka’s final year, the Glory of Life and the ordinariness of true beauty; ponder about the seemingly impossible ‘literature without words’ with Udeni Samarasekara; draw the line of Lanka with Sunela Jayewardene; or speak a few words with Laurence Boissier.

The richness of this festival is summed up by DBC Pierre: “Watching the Indian Ocean from Galle, it’s easy to feel a 2,000 year-old silk route tying East to West underfoot. Now the Fairway Galle Literary Festival ties them again - and its silk is rich ideas.”

If you want to learn about prolific fictional writing in diverse fields and his latest blockbusting detective series, see Alexander McCall Smith, Emeritus Professor of Medical Ethics at the University of Edinburgh. He writes some 2,000 to 3,000 words per day and some of his books have been translated into 46 languages. Who knows if you turn up to his talks, he might just use you as a character for his next book.

An immersive cultural experience

Children and adults alike will love to meet Francesca Simon, who has done the impossible by making history accessible and funny to very young people and parents desperately trying to get them interested in such important lessons to be learned.

The curator of this years exciting festival, Jill Macdonald, asks the question, ‘Can words really mean so many things?’ An event that since 2007 has celebrated the astonishing power of the human spirit to persevere and be true to itself – the resilience of individuals whose lives bear testimony to the distinctive creative potential of humanity and added to it is a stunning art trail of exhibitions full of messages and photography that will make you think. For her a must see 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.

The Fairway Galle Literary Festival’s Sri Lankan setting is aptly represented by a number of brilliant 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 short listed 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.

Fairway Galle Literary Festival for all ages

In whatever language, the questioning of preconceptions is a crucial part of this festival’s spirit - “political correctness has established such a stranglehold on freedom of thinking - let alone speech - this kind of questioning has become rarer and therefore, like all rare things, more valuable.” So bring your note books and an open mind and be part of a page turning event in the UNESCO World heritage site of Galle Fort, where many pages have been penned about its beauty and mystery as Asia’s largest living sea port, where the heart of the festival takes place in a myriad of historical landmark locations, boutique hotels and private properties, along with many other locations along the southern coast of Sri Lanka, making this festival truly an immersive cultural experience that celebrates literature, the arts and spirit of this wonderful island in the middle of the world.

A big thank you for the generous third year of sponsorship to the title sponsor Fairway Holdings. It is a company that is setting a great example of corporate leadership by promoting the Arts. The Tourist Board of Sri Lanka is the Official Destination Partner, Jetwing Hotels is the Official Hospitality Partner, Sri Lanka Telecom is the Official Telecom Partner and the DFCC Bank is the Official Banking Partner – many thanks to all of them for making such an important festival across all three languages possible.

The Dutch warehouse maritime museum






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