Galle Literary Festival 2016: What I’m looking forward to


I’ve always loved the Galle Lit Fest, with its eclectic mix of writers from across Sri Lanka and India, and authors from around the world jetting in to exchange ideas and speak about writing. The old Dutch star fort with its iconic lighthouse is the perfect setting for a literature festival, and the waves of the Indian ocean are always lapping on its beautiful beaches. Look south: there’s nothing that way until Antarctica.

This year Galle has an amazing mix of workshops, film screenings, panels and readings, so I thought I’d put together a list of the things I’m most excited about in the coming days from the Galle Literature Festival 2016.

SEBASTIAN FAULKS on ‘Devil May Care’ and James Bond – 12.30 – 2.00pm Thurs 14th

At Galle Fort Hotel In the summer of 2006, Sebastian Faulks was approached by the family of the late Ian Fleming and asked if he would write a one-off James Bond novel to mark the centenary of Fleming’s birth. The book, titled Devil May Care, was published in 2008 and went straight to number one in the UK bestseller lists. It also entered the US top ten after four days on sale. It is the fastest selling hardback in Penguin’s history. Faulks will read a short excerpt.


Tea & Poetry Reading with TISHANI DOSHI & OMAR MUSA – 3.45 – 5.00pm Thurs 14th

Tea and poetry in Galle – what’s not to like? Doshi’s ‘Countries of the Body’ explores moments when the boundaries of our body collapse at death, sex and birth. She also explores external lands in her travels. Musa, a Malaysian-Australian rapper and poet, reads from his collection of poetry ‘Parang’ which explores Malaysian jungles, dark Australian streets, and dreams. Can’t wait for this, personally.

SHYAM SELVADURAI on Many Roads Through Paradise, The Hungry Ghosts and his project Write to Reconcile – 9.30 – 10.30am Fri 15th

Festival Curator and author Shyam Selvadurai discusses how his literary work and other endeavours in Sri Lanka explore what is means to be a Diasporic Sri Lankan. His novel The Hungry Ghosts travels back and forth between Canada and Sri Lanka as his protagonist grapples with what it means to be a person of two worlds. His comprehensive anthology of Sri Lankan literature in all 3 languages, Many Roads Through Paradise, is unique for being the first work of its scope published outside the country, but also for melding Sri Lankan and diasporic writers.


AMITAV GHOSH on his Ibis Trilogy – 11.00am – 12.00pm Fri 15th

The utterly brilliant Amitav Ghosh will be talking about his bestselling Ibis trilogy, which comprises Sea of Poppies, River of Smoke and Flood of Fire. The story of the three novels is set in the first half of the 19th century and deals with the trade of opium between India and China run by the East India Company and the trafficking of coolies to Mauritius. Can’t wait for this one.


And of course, just for a little self-promotion, come check out my own panel with the brilliant Anita Nair and Anuradha Roy. We’ll be discussing how a writer can convincingly enter a time period very different from their own and bring it to life, as well as whether historical fiction always has to be a metaphor for the present. We’ll also be discussing the dilemmas and ethics around inventing aspects of the past.

Anita Nair is the best-selling and critically acclaimed author of the novels The Better Man, Ladies Coupé, Mistress, Lessons in Forgetting, Cut Like Wound and Idris. Anuradha Roy’s latest book, Sleeping on Jupiter, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2015, and she won the Economist Crossword Prize for Fiction for her novel, The Folded Earth. Her Atlas of Impossible Longing is one of my personal favourites too.

I can’t wait to hear what these two have to say, so come join us as well.

For more on what to expect from the Galle Literary Festival 2016, check out the full programme here (pdf).

I’ll also be posting updates on Twitter as we go, so come follow for more including pictures and live breakdowns of events. And if you’re attending Galle this year, come say hi and we’ll go get some kottu.


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