The Fairway Galle Literary Festival will take place from 16 to 20 January 2019. This marks the tenth anniversary of The Festival, which has established itself as a much anticipated and highly acclaimed fixture on the South-East Asian cultural calendar. It is a Festival admired the world over and draws first-class writers, academics, artists, film directors, musicians and dancers who treasure its district atmosphere and ambience. The distinguished writer Alexander McCall Smith describes the Fairway Galle Literary Festival in this way: “The Fairway Galle Literary Festival is without doubt one of the most charming literary festivals in the world. The setting is superb, the people friendly and the programme stimulating – a perfect festival in every respect.” .
The Festival attracts thousands of people each year, many of whom travel to Sri Lanka especially to attend this cultural attraction that greatly encourages tourism and brings highly educated and influential visitors to the UNESCO world heritage of Galle each year. Indeed Sri Lanka’s stature as a tourist destination has enjoyed an enormous boost as a result of the Festival, which astonishingly, managed to achieve this even at the darkest time for tourism, before the end of the civil war. During that very difficult period, the Festival reminded the world of Sri Lanka’s deep commitment to literature and the arts as pursuits underlining the distinctive human capacity for creativity.
Writers travelling to Sri Lanka to take part in this year’s Festival include Sir David Hare, one of the most celebrated and best known of contemporary playwrights, with over thirty plays and twenty-five screenplays for film and television to his name. More importantly, in a millennial poll of the hundred best plays of the twentieth century, five were his.
Kamila Shamise’s reputation as one of the most respected voices in literature today is reflected in her selection as one of the judges of the Best Ever Man Booker Prize winner. Her choice of Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient as the winner for the decade of the 1990’s proved prescient; the novel won the final award. Shamsie’s own most recent novel, Home Fire, was long listed for the 2017 Man Booker Prize and won the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2018. A powerful reworking for modern times of the story of Antigone, Home Fire explores the clash between society, family and faith.
Sir Don McCullin joins us in Galle in advance of a major retrospective exhibition of his work at the Tate Gallery in London. As one of the most admired photojournalists of his time, Sir Don has had a powerful impact on public knowledge of news to which access is difficult or complicated. A recipient of the Best Press Photo Award, Sir Don is also a landscape photographer whose arresting images are captured in his most recent publication, Landscapes.
Poets have played a major role in each year’s Festival, helping us to interpret the human experiences as it is played out across the globe. This year we welcome Fatima Bhutto, who is also a journalist and writer of fiction. Her four books include Songs of Blood and Sword and the highly acclaimed The Shadow of the Crescent Moon, which was longlisted in 2014 for the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction, Fatima is the niece of former Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto. Vahni Capildeo is a poet whose collection Measures of Expatriation won the very distinguished Forward Prize for Poetry in 2016 (past winners of the prize include Ted Hughes, Seamus Heaney, Peter Porter and Carol Ann Duffy) and was also shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize. Born in Trinidad, she was a Rhodes Scholar and is one of the most exciting and interesting voices in contemporary English poetry.
The distinguished Canadian writer Madeleine Thien’s most recent book, Do Not Say We Have Nothing, was shortlisted for the 2016 Man Booker Prize, the Women’s Prize for Fiction and The Folio Prize and won the 2016 Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Governor-General’s Literary Award for Fiction The novel was named a New York Times Critics’ Top Book of 2016 and long-listed for a Carnegie Medal. Madeleine’s books have been translated into twenty-five languages and her essays and stories have appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, Brick, Frieze, Granta, and elsewhere. She lives in Montreal and New York, and is a Professor of English at Brooklyn College.
Anthony Horowitz is one of the most prolific and successful writers in the UK. His Alex Rider books have sold over 16 million copies and he is the only modern writer to have been invited by Ian Fleming’s trustees to write two James Bond novels: Trigger Mortis and Forever and a Day, the latter being a prequel to Casino Royale, the first of Ian Fleming’s 007 novels. A rising star in the genre of detective writing, Charles Cumming has been described as “the true heir of Fleming and Le Carre” and his powerful novels of espionage owe much to his own experience as an agent with M16.
Romesh Gunasekera is a highly acclaimed writer whose stunning early work Reef was shortlisted for The Booker Prize. His most recent publication, Noontide Toll, captures a vital moment in the aftermath of the civil war in Sri Lanka and was featured in The New Yorker. The esteem in which he is held internationally is amply reflected in his selection as Chair of the Judges for the 2015 Commonwealth Short Story Prize and he was also a Judge for Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists Prize He has been a Guest Director at the Cheltenham Festival and was for four years on the Council of the Royal Society of Literature.
A truly international citizen, William Dalrymple is the award winning writer of numerous books related to history and travel. Four times longlisted and once shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction, he is a recipient of the Duff Cooper Memorial Prize and the Thomas Cook Travel Award. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, Dalrymple is also one of the cofounders of the Jaipur Literature Festival.
The Festival also highlights outstanding Sri Lankan literature and is a way of sharing this with the worldwide community of readers. We are honoured this year to preset Ramya Jirasinghe, whose first collection of poems, There’s an Island in the Bone won the 2011 Sri Lanka State Literary Prize, was longlisted for Ireland’s Fish Poetry Prize, and joint runner-up for the Guardian Orange First Words Prize in 2009. The TimesOnline, UK, featured her in its 2009 selection of contemporary war poetry. Her most recent book of poems, Love Poems from a Frangipani Garden, is published by Mica Press, UK.
Founded with the aim both of attracting top writers to Sri Lanka and of showcasing Sri Lanka’s own rich treasure of arts and letters, The Festival has in its ten years of operation considerably expanded the scope and range of its activities. It now includes two Children’s Programmes – one for which tickets may be purchased and one that is not ticketed and therefore widely available to schoolchildren and young people in the Galle area. The Festival’s North-South Programme brings together invited university students from all over the country, to participate in a bespoke Festival Programme while also attending events in the main programme. A special Sinhala Day Programme allows for a concentration on Sri Lankan literature, while the Teacher Training Programme ensures The Festival makes a direct and meaningful contribution to the lives of young people in the southern province. Teachers and students may apply for reduced rates of entry to ticketed events
Internationally acclaimed Child Rights Activist and author of children’s books Nandana Sen will be with us in Galle and will contribute to the Children’s Programme. Nandana is transparently committed to children’s safety and sees creative writing for children as an emotionally safe way of making children and young people more aware of the world they live in.
The Fairway Galle Literary Festival is also a Festival of the Arts and the Art Trail showcases the work of international and local artists and will this year include workshops enabling those attending the Festival to benefit from the experience and expertise of the artists involved. Musical performances will take place in locations in and around the Fort and have been arranged to complement the literary and artistic content of the Programme. Curated walks highlighting significant architectural and historical features of the Fort and the Galle area provide timulating context for the event . Festival lunches and dinners, often taking place in private homes, afford those attending the Festival the opportunity to interact closely with writers and participating artists and are much sought after attractions of the Festival. Among celebrity chefs joining us at the Festival this year is Peter Kuruwita, who will launch his new cookery book at this time.
The Fairway Galle Literary Festival takes place owing to the very generous sponsorship of the title sponsor Fairway Holdings.
The Festival also enjoys the support of Hospitality Partner Jetwing Hotels, while Sri Lanka Telecom is the Telecommunication Partner. The Banking Partner is DFCC Bank and MTV/MBC is the Broadcast Partner. Jetwing Travels is the Bronze Partners the Festival.
Cultural sponsors play an important role in supporting the Festival and these include: The Goethe Institute, The Alliance Francaise de Kotte, The High Commission for South Africa, The Embassy for the Netherlands and The Embassy for Italy.
Friends of the Festival include Barefoot Bookshop, Vijitha Yapa Bookshop, the Perera-Hussain Publishing House and Water mart.