A pause – what are literary festivals for?

18 February, 2011

OK, so I didn’t really go into the controversies and boycotts that plague the Galle Literary Festival each year after my rant last year. However, to me it seems that literary festivals always come with boycotts for the publicity they generate, and in a country recovering from war, it’s effect is even more devastating and emotional. I really doubt whether the government is even taking notice of the literary festival which isn’t state-funded considering it has so many other pressing matters to deal with such as the rehabilitation of its people and land as well as the floods that have plagued the north east of Sri Lanka these past few months. But GLF’s founder Geoffrey Dobbs’ heartfelt speech at the end of the festival touched a chord. It may be a small contribution and the festival may have seen its share of rich socialites from Colombo who aren’t interested in literature, yet it has brought much-needed income to the areas surrounding Galle, the shops, restaurants and tuk tuk drivers as well as people from around the world who care about what is happening in the world and have an opinion and who also happen to love literature.

I say literary festivals should generate discussion. So, here’s a round-up of some interesting articles that came my way:

My friend Fëanor who blogs at Jost A Mon sent me this article expressing disappointment that the GLF features literature only in English and not in Sinhala or Tamil.

Jack Point who blogs at Court Jester left a comment on my post about why the boycott is wrong.

Malinda Seneviratne is a Sri Lankan journalist whose newspaper article my father sent my way.

And finally one of my favourite writers, V.V. Ganeshananthan, author of Love Marriage, has written a piercing piece about what it means to participate in literary festivals, especially the GLF. Hear, hear!

5 Responses to “A pause – what are literary festivals for?”

  1. Fëanor Says:

    Hiya! Didn’t know of your last year’s rant, or would have been more circumspect in sending you links unhappy with GLF! 🙂

    Enjoying being back in Blighty?

    • chasing bawa Says:

      It’s cold here:(

      I wanted to thank you for sending me the link. I like reading about all the stuff that’s being said about the GLF! Compared to most international lit fests it’s actually quite small but seems to get a lot of publicity. So keep ’em coming!

  2. Interesting! 😀 Like the first article! I kind of enjoy Sinhala books a lot more than our books in English! 🙂 Anyway here’s another link! 😉


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