THE GALLE LITERARY FESTIVAL
Come January, 2007 and the 'where have you been' question will pop up again. To deflect the answer, I'll give you a sneak peek of what's going to happen then.
Sri Lanka is getting ready to host its first literary festival - The Galle Literary Festival and I've been invited. In fact, I've just received word from the Festival Director, the amazingly talented Libby Southwell that the picture you see on your left is going to be our abode in the second week of January. I'm not entirely sure if the property owners are ready to take on my son, who shot to notoreity with his Full Monty show at Ubud, but we sure are.
Given sights like these who can resist? That's only part of the reason that the Festival is already turning out to be such a huge draw.
In what can clearly be considered a literary coup, the festival has managed to attract this year's Man Booker Prize winner, Kiran Desai. And yours truly has been truly honoured to be given the opportunity to talk about her life and her impressive award-winning work.
Other big names include author and historian William Dalrymple who promises to take the audience on a dramatic journey as he unveils his enthusiasm for India’s last Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar with his recently launched book 'The Last Mughal'. The book's been getting rave reviews across the world, including one from the usually unforgiving 'Economist'. It's in the recent issue, if you must go looking for it.
Apart from Kiran Desai, I am looking forward to listening to ex-BBC India man and author Mark Tully. I've read most of his work and have been touched by it, particularly by the book that came out post Operation Bluestar that he co-authored with Satish Jacob. Steering the discussion will be none other than former ABC South Asia Correspondent Christopher Kremmer.
2005 Pulitzer Prize finalist Suketu Mehta will be joining the incredible line up of authors that include Sir Arthur C Clarke, Romesh Gunesekera and Madhur Jaffrey, among a host of others.
The festival will also celebrate Sri Lankan literature and will remember the late Nihal De Silva.
They say, there is nothing like the company of friends. And I will have plenty of that. Cooking up a storm at various sessions will be the charming Janet de Neefe, taking a break from airplanes will be the affable Elmo Jayawardena, and not stealing his ideas from kids this time will be the unparalleled Nury Vittachi. All fabulous friends who make for great company when they are not putting festivals together or appearing at them. Since the festival makes room for lunch or coffee with your favourite authors, I'd strongly recommend you look out for them, just as you do for the rest.
The four day programme will be filled with writing workshops, panel discussions, topical debates, literary lunches & dinners, poetry readings, cooking classes, theatre workshops, a children’s programme and much much more.
If that's got your appetite whetted, click on to the festival website:
The Festival will be held in & around the historic city of Galle and its magnificent UN World Heritage Fort.
As the official line goes, "It’s time to bury yourself in books for what promises to be an exceptional event."
I don't know about you, but one look at the stunning venues has my head brimming with ideas beyond the festival. More on that as and when it happens.
Pictures on this post courtesy 'The LightHouse' http://www.lighthousehotelandspa.com/index.html and 'The Sun House' http://www.thesunhouse.com/