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Dhaka Lit Fest

Dhaka Lit Fest
Dhaka Lit Fest.jpg
Status Annual
Location(s) Ramna, Dhaka
Country Bangladesh
Years active 2011-present
Inaugurated 2011 (as The Hay Festival Dhaka)

Dhaka Lit Fest (also known as Dhaka Literary Festival or DLF) is an annual literary festival held in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Since 2012 it has been held every November in the grounds of the historic Bangla Academy with sessions held over three days, primarily in English and Bengali.


Dhaka Lit Fest began as The Hay Festival Dhaka with the support of the British Council Dhaka in 2012.

The festival was initiated by Sadaf Saaz, Tahmima Anam, Ahsan Akbar and Kazi Anis Ahmed, all of whom write in English.[1] In 2015, its current three directors, Sadaf Saaz, Ahsan Akbar and Kazi Anis Ahmed, renamed the Hay Festival Dhaka as "Dhaka Lit Fest" to mark its commitment to promoting Anglophilia among people in Dhaka and Bangladesh[2] and to deflect criticism for importing a British literary festival.[3]



The 2017 Dhaka Lit Fest hosted 70 speakers from 24 countries and attracted around 30000 attendees.[4]

Between 2013 and 2017 DLF alumni included two Nobel laureates VS Naipaul and Harold Varmus,[1] as well as Vikram Seth, Tariq Ali, Rosie Boycott, William Dalrymple, Vijay Seshadri, Ahdaf Soueif, Shashi Tharoor, Jung Chang and Pankaj Mishra, Hasan Azizul Huq, Selina Hossain, Debesh Roy and Nirmalendu Goon.

The festival has inspired two literary journals in English and three new English fiction imprints from Dhaka. [5]


Some observers have described DLF organizers as Anglophile comprador bourgeois who are the unashamed agents of neo-imperial western hegemony in Bangladesh and speculate that they initiated the event to promote themselves as writers in English and groom their own fandom in Dhaka.[6][7][8] The festival's sponsors have been praised for ensuring DLF is free to attend and well organised[9]

Time magazine wrote that in "Bangladesh, where independent bloggers and journalists have increasingly become targets of violence, the Dhaka Literary Festival has become a symbol of defiance....fearlessly celebrating Bangladesh’s rich literary tradition."[10]

2017 statement on Rohingya refugee crisis

In November 2017, over 50 participants in the 2017 Dhaka Lit Fest and festival alumni released a statement in support of Myanmar’s Rohingya community, urging the global community “to stand up and support these refugees, and to hold accountable those who have orchestrated the violence leading to this catastrophe.”

Signatories include Pulitzer Prize winner Vijay Seshadri, historian William Dalrymple, writer Nayantara Sahgal and actress Nandana Sen, as well as Syrian poet Adonis, Hideous Kinky author Esther Freud, Academy Award winner Tilda Swinton, Booker Prize-winning novelist Ben Okri, playwright David Hare, writer Lionel Shriver, public intellectual Tariq Ali, and Bangladeshi literary icons Syed Manzoorul Islam and Kaiser Haq.[11]


  1. ^ The Daily Star. "Dhaka Lit Fest: The Gathering of Literary Minds". Retrieved 2017-10-12. 
  2. ^ DESIGNARIUM. "Dhaka Lit Fest". Retrieved 2018-05-26. 
  3. ^ The Daily Star. "Dhaka Lit Fest: The Gathering of Literary Minds". Retrieved 2017-10-12. 
  4. ^ "The Dhaka Literary Festival Defies Attacks on Free Speech". Time. Retrieved 2018-05-26. 
  5. ^ "Dhaka Translation Center - Dhaka Translation Center (DTC)". Dhaka Translation Center (DTC). Retrieved 2018-05-26. 
  6. ^ []
  7. ^ []
  8. ^ []
  9. ^ "I'm in Bangladesh as I needed to put a few thousand miles between myself and the Hovel". Retrieved 2018-05-26. 
  10. ^ "The Dhaka Literary Festival Defies Attacks on Free Speech". Time. Retrieved 2018-05-26. 
  11. ^ "Hold Those Responsible for Rohingya Crisis Accountable: Dhaka Lit Fest Statement - The Wire". The Wire. Retrieved 2018-05-26. 

External links