The sixth edition of Dhaka Lit Fest, the biggest English literature festival in the country, ended on Saturday evening at Bangla Academy.
The concluding ceremony of the three-day event was held at the academy’s main auditorium. Fazle Hasan Abed, chairman of BRAC, attended the event in which two writers received the Gemcon Literary Award 2016.
Mainul Ahsan Saber and Mustafiz Karigar received the awards in the senior and young categories – receiving Tk 800,000 and Tk 200,000, respectively.
This year, 66 writers from 18 countries including Nobel Prize winning author VS Naipaul took part in the festival.
Naipaul, who was knighted in 1989 for his contributions to English literature, talked about his journey as a writer at a session at the main auditorium on Friday.
The session was attended by hundreds of people both inside the auditorium and in front of a multimedia projector set up on the ground outside, broadcasting live the session.
In his speech, Naipaul said he decided to be a writer at an early age. ‘At that time, I didn’t know what to write about. It’s really painful when a writer doesn’t know what to write about,’ he said.
‘But a story eventually sprang up.’
Naipaul also said the publisher whom he approached for his first novel told him to throw the manuscript to the wastepaper bin.
‘But being a writer was the most significant development in my life. I couldn’t think of being anyone and doing anything else,’ he said.
Naipaul’s wife Nadia Naipaul was also present at this occasion.
Another important session in the festival was one on the life and works of late poet-playwright Syed Shamsul Haq, attended by Haq’s son Dwitiyo Syed Haq among others, on the opening day.
In total, Dhaka Lit Fest featured around 100 plenary sessions, readings, cultural performances, book launches, literary hangouts, workshops and film screenings.
It was inaugurated by VS Naipaul on Thursday with finance minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith and cultural affairs minister Asaduzzaman Noor in attendance.
The festival was organised by Jatrik with Bangla Academy as a co-host, with an objective to introduce Bangladeshi literature and culture to the world and vice versa.
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