2016 Fairway Galle Literary Festival reveals headliners

Features Sebastian Faulks, Meera Syal, Hugh Thomson & Sonali Deraniyagala

With the much-awaited 2016 Fairway Galle Literary Festival, the seventh in the series, to be held for the first time ever over three consecutive weeks in January, Kandy 8th to the 10th, Galle on the 13th to the 17th and Jaffna on the 23rd to the 24th, potential festivalgoers attentions are already turning to the literary heavyweights expected to attend this now globally-recognised festival. Tickets for the Festival go on sale in December via wow.lk as well as physical outlets in Colombo, Galle, Kandy and Jaffna.

The 2016 Fairway Galle Literary Festival plans to include celebrated, award winning international authors such as Sebastian Faulks, Meera Syal, Hugh Thomson, Sonali Deraniyagala and Mona Arshi in its 2016 line-up. The Festival will also welcome two Poetry heavy weights, 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry winner Gregory Pardlo and New York Times Bestseller and Forward Prize winner Claudia Rankine, along with famed children’s author Andy Stanton, the creator of the beloved Mr. Gum series, as well as best-selling historians Tom Holland and Mark Tully. The British Council and Goethe Institut continue to partner the Festival by bringing down renowned scientific author Kenan Malik and international crime novelist Andrea Maria Schenkel respectively.

Further the Festival will showcase a large contingent of Asian region authors, from Anuradha Roy, Jeet Thayil, Prof. Sayed Islam, Samath Subramanium and even Malaysian-Australian rapper, poet and first-time author Omar Musa.

Representing Sri Lanka, will be the 2012 Commonwealth Prize winner and DSC Prize winner Shehan Karunatilaka, and noted Sri Lankan poet Ariyawansa Ranaweera, along with Jayatilaka Kammallaweera, one of today’s most widely published Sinhala authors. A full listing of authors will be available from today onwards at www.galleliteraryfestival.com.

The Festival continues to grow its longstanding relationship with other art forms and mediums, facilitated by 2016’s unique line-up of talents, including artists, dramatists and musicians. Headlined by celebrated thespian Fiona Shaw, an icon of theatre, TV and film, coming out of the UK-based Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, she will be joined at the Festival by filmmaker Visakesa Chandrasekaram, the Chamber Music Society of Colombo Ensemble, led by violinist Lakshman Joseph de Saram, and theatre group The Grassrooted Trust.

Aside from drama, art and music, there will also be a heightened emphasis on architecture, including talks on architecture, architectural tours, etc., as well as an even stronger visual arts presence. There will be three exhibitions open for the duration of the Festival, at certain key locations around the Fort, curated by known creative visionaries for the attendees viewing pleasure.

The 2016 Fairway Galle Literary Festival fascination with food, continues with the attendance of MasterChef Italy Runner-Up Almo Bibolotti, New York-based Vis-à-Vis Executive Chef Charles Disanayake and Meera Sodha, whose inaugural undertaking, “Made in India: Cooked in Britain: Recipes from an Indian Family Kitchen”, made it to the top ten in the UK bestseller ranking. The full programme for the 2016 festival will be available from end-November at www.galleliteraryfestival.com.

“With today’s unveiling of our headlining talent, both authors and other artists, we truly prove that the Galle Lit Fest is back at the same level despite our three year hiatus. In fact, I feel that our absence from Asia’s literary calendar has not gone unnoticed, with many asking when will this literary festival be back. I think we can now truthfully say, not only are we back but, thanks to a stellar author and programme line up, we are undoubtedly better than ever,” commented Geoffrey Dobbs, the Festival’s Founder.

The scale and diversity of the Festival is made possible by significant support from Festival partners, foremost of which is its title sponsor Fairway Holdings. National carrier SriLankan Airlines has also come on board as a Platinum Partner for the 2016 festival, while Hospitality Partner Jetwing Lighthouse also continues its longtime partnership with the Festival. Extensive support has also been received from Gold Partners including Land Rover, Colombo Jewellery Stores, Dialog, MAS Holdings, The Elysium Collection, Taprobane Collection and the US Embassy. The 2016 festival is also made possible with the backing of its important, Silver Partners including Amangalla, British Council, Anim8, Galle Face Hotel, Owl and the Pussycat, and the DSC Prize.

Said Hemaka de Alwis, Chairman of Fairway Holdings, the 2016 Festival’s title sponsor; “By being associated with this unique event, we hope to contribute towards the development of arts and culture in Sri Lanka. For a country to thrive, peace and prosperity alone is not enough. Its people need to be culturally enlightened and proud of their heritage. Many of the activities we support are focused on improving the appreciation of fine arts amongst Sri Lankan audiences. Fairway National Literary Award is another one of these endeavours.”

Excitingly, while the 2016 Fairway Galle Literary Festival programme features the return of several audience favourites there are many new events to look forward to, like the inaugural mini, weekend festivals in Kandy and Jaffna, where international authors and thinkers will participate to access people who would not otherwise attend, significantly growing the festival’s reach island-wide. There will also be a new audio visual initiative being debuted at this year’s festival, the “Thinking Out Loud Series”, which will facilitate greater audience contact with invited international writers, performers and thinkers, while even more non literary exhibits will be held, depicting drama, film, architecture and visual art pieces, as part of the Festival’s growing “A Greater Focus on the Other Arts” movement.

Meanwhile, the Festival’s outreach activities will be further extended through the Festival’s partnership with the Serendipity Trust, which will roll out an extensive community outreach programme with the full support and sponsorship by MAS Holdings, throughout Galle, Kandy and Jaffna over the course of the festival month. With activities including the Galle Children’s Festival, the GLF Schools’ Day Events in Kandy and Jaffna and teacher training and development initiatives. Concessionary ticket rates are offered for students and teachers to attend the Festival. The North-South University Collaboration programme will happen for the 3rd year, sponsored graciously once again by the US Embassy.

Additionally, the 2016 festival is pleased to now play host to two very important literary awards, the newly constituted Fairway National Literary Award (FNLA) and the well-established DSC Prize for South Asian Literature. A new introduction to benefit the field of literature in Sri Lanka, the FNLA will be, when it is awarded at the Festival, the richest local literary prize to ever be awarded. The awards ceremony will be preceded by a celebration of Sri Lanka’s literature in the Fairway Celebration of Sri Lanka Series. While the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature will also unveil the winner of its $US 50,000 award, from an already revealed 2016 long-list, which comprises highly respected South Asian talents such as Minoli Salgado and Anuradha Roy, who will both showcase their work in Galle.