Featuring renowned Pakistani and foreign novelists, poets, journalists, historians and other scholars, the inaugural Lahore Literary Festival (LLF) drew capacity crowds to the Alhamra Arts Council on Mall Road on February 23 and 24, 2013.
Tariq Ali, William Dalrymple, Tehmina Durrani, Musharraf Ali Farooqi, Mohsin Hamid, Intizar Husain, Ayesha Jalal, Ahmed Rashid, Bapsi Sidhwa, and Jeet Thayil were among the authors who spoke at the two-day festival.
The DSC Jaipur Literature Festival in India and Pakistan's own increasingly popular Karachi Literature Festival have been two of the big success stories in South Asian cultural life in recent years. The first Lahore Literary Festival was positioned as a means of attracting similar audiences while also calling attention to Lahore's storied cultural heritage. (Newsweek Pakistan published a special commemorative issue dedicated to "Literary Lahore" in the run-up to the festival.) The long queues and packed halls at the Alhamra Arts Council suggested that there's certainly room in Pakistan for more than one event centered on reading and writing — and Time suggests this week that the Lahore and Karachi Festivals represent the country's "new soft power."
Sonya Rehman contributed from Lahore for this post.