The much awaited Fairway Galle Literary Festival returns for the ninth time at its home, the UNESCO World heritage site of Galle Fort, Sri Lanka. In partnership with Fairway Holdings for the third year, The Fairway Galle Literary Festival will take place from January 24th – 28th 2018.

The Fairway Galle Literary Festival is Sri Lanka’s only dedicated literary festival and will feature renowned and accomplished authors, filmmakers, radio broadcasters, newspaper editors and academics from countries around the world including England, France, Germany, Switzerland, Guyana, Pakistan, India and Tasmania.

Highlights of the 2018 Festival include the attendance of Pankaj Mishra, author of ‘Age of Anger’(2017) and of Shrabani Basu, whose novel ‘Victoria and Abdul’ has just been made into a major motion picture starring Dame Judi Dench; also in attendance acclaimed film producer David, Lord Puttnam, the recipient of 10 Oscars who memorably brought us ‘Chariots of Fire.’

Other acclaimed writers include Bachi Karkaria whose recent publication ‘In Hot Blood’ is the first nonfiction account of the famous Nanavati murder case that was to signal the end of the jury system in India, Alexander McCall Smith, Emeritus Professor of Medical Ethics at the University of Edinburgh, whose popular ‘No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency’ novels follow a female detective in Botswana.

Yet other authors include Bruce Wannell who is a scholar, linguist and travel writer; his works include ‘Sufism: Mystical Writings of Islam’ (2007) and books on Iran and Ancient Persia. Guyanese – born broadcaster, novelist, poet and academic David Dabydeen is prolific writer whose first collection of poems ‘Slave Song’ (1984) won the Commonwealth Poetry Prize. Hilali Noordeen is the only living former Sri Lankan President of the Oxford Union (1983) (the other two former Presidents Lalith Athulathmudali and Lakshman Kadirgamar were assassinated).

Pakistani journalist and media professional Laaleen Sukera’s latest project ‘Austenistan’, is a Jane Austen inspired anthology set in Pakistani society and will be published by Bloomsbury. Sri Lankan authors will include Nayomi Munaweera whose book ‘What Lies Between Us’ won the Best English Novel at the State Literary Awards 2017, Ashok Ferrey, Channa Daswatte, Vivimarie VanderPoorten and Charulatha Abeysekara among others.

Over the years, the Fairway Galle Literary Festival has created a special identity for itself based on content, diversity, organisation and its unique location. The Festival is set in and around the Dutch Galle Fort, originally a 16th century Portuguese Fort but captured by the Dutch in the 17th century.

Located on the southern coast of Sri Lanka, this UNESCO heritage site comprises cobblestone passageways, ramparts in old grey stone, 14 bastions, a mesmerising view of the Indian Ocean and the Galle Harbour, a Peace Pagoda across the bay, a lighthouse, many churches, beautiful colonial architecture, cafes, hotels and open courtyards.

This blend of European and Asian cultures creates the ideal setting for the horde of 2 vivacious participants and attendees who will intermingle with one another and generate an atmosphere that is special and unique. The Festival aims to engage people in intellectual discussion, animated debates and intimate conversations, while searching to express and learn something new. It hopes to inspire and motivate those who participate through interaction between artistes and audiences.

Today, the Festival has become something much more than just than a literary soiree. It also features film appreciation, poetry at teatime, gourmet dinners, schools events, a children’s programme, a Sinhala Day, a Galle Art Trail, classical music concerts, jazz events, cabaret and historic city walks. Two literary prizes, namely the Fairway National Literary Awards and the Edward Lear Prize for Poetry are awarded at the festival.

While portraying literature and the arts, the Festival also embraces the responsibility of sharing and fostering English through creativity. Participants are encouraged to express themselves through the Festival’s outreach programmes in Galle and Jaffna which include the Mini Children’s Outreach Festival, the North South University Collaboration Programme and the Teacher Training Programme. 

The Mini Children’s Outreach Festival will bring together children from Galle, Kurunegala and Jaffna to a programme held in at the Martin Wickramasinghe Folk Museum, which in turn pays tribute to one of Sri Lanka’s foremost authors – Martin Wickramasinghe. The North-South University Collaboration Programme brings together students and professors from Sri Lanka’s National Universities to visit and participate in the Festival over five days. The brainchild of former Festival Curator Shyam Selvedurai, this Programme works towards reconciliation and bonding of young people from around the island. The Teacher Training Outreach Programme, will be held at the Amarasuriya Teacher Training College in Unawatuna for trainee teachers and teachers from schools in Galle. This Programme will host Festival authors who will be conducting special workshops for the attendees.

The Festival recognises the critical role that its partners play in its continuance. Its overall success is owing to their distinctive and diverse contributions, which must be noted with great appreciation.

Fairway Holdings is now in its third year as the Title Sponsor. Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau is the Official Destination Partner Jetwing Hotels is the Official Hospitality Partner. (Colombo Gazette)