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Hay to feature 60 foreign thinkers, writers this year

With more than 80 sessions on subjects ranging from literature to mathematics, the three-day Hay Festival Dhaka kicks off tomorrow on the capital’s Bangla Academy premises, opening up a world of thoughts and joy, organisers said yesterday.

“Sixty thinkers and writers from 13 foreign countries will participate in the festival this year along with more than 200 Bangladeshi litterateurs,” said Festival Director Sadaf Saaz Siddiqui at a press conference at Dhaka Reporters Unity.

Starting in 1988, the original Hay Festival of Literature & Arts is held every year for 10 days in May-June at Hay-on-Wye in Wales, from which it derives its name. Now, the literature festival is hosted in over 10 countries in Asia, Africa, Americas and Europe.

In 2010, Hay Festival was first organised on the British Council premises in Dhaka, with The Daily Star as the title sponsor. The response received from litterateurs and thinkers of the country brought the festival to the Bangla Academy grounds, the cultural hub of the nation.

The themes of this year’s festival are telling stories in different ways and pushing boundaries of the mind.

Noted foreign guests include acclaimed historian and writer William Dalrymple, Indian novelist and politician Shashi Tharoor, and Chinese author Jung Chang.

Focusing on the importance of Hay, Kazi Anis Ahmed, festival adviser and director of KK Tea, another lead sponsor of the event, said, “We have great literary works in Bangla. However, we could hardly take that treasure to the world’s stage.”

He said Hay provided the country’s authors, writing both in English and Bangla, with the opportunity to interact with similar minds from around the globe, make intellectual exchanges, and meet world-class book publishers, editors, and critics.

Ahmed also presented some highlights of this year’s arrangements, which include recitation of poems and essays in indigenous languages of the country, deliberation of Bhoot FM, ghost stories broadcast in Radio Foorti, and Bangla rap.

Salehuddin Ahmed, managing editor of The Daily Star, said the newspaper had been the title sponsor of the festival for the last four years because Hay brought together world’s literature, history, and journalism to Bangladesh and enriched the mind.

Except for the inaugural ceremony beginning at 10:30am on the first day, the festival will remain open from 8:30am to 8:00pm daily till November 22.

Entry to the festival is free and no registration is required. More about the festival is available at http://hayfestivaldhaka.org.

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