Monday, 29 August 2011


Known for its mountains, Nepal might not seem an obvious locale for a literature festival, but the organizers of the first “Kathmandu Literary Jatra” aim to change this perception.

Suvani Singh
The festival, to be held from Sept. 16 to 18, will provide “a platform for local-language literature to engage with its international counterpart” and will also play a pivotal role in bringing Nepali writing to the global stage, says festival director Suvani Singh.

She and her colleagues point out that although Nepal has a strong oral tradition, the nation has long been defined “through the prism of under-development”.  The literary festival is thus a means to show Nepal’s “cultural wealth and change the singular narrative through which it is known internationally,” they add.

Singh says that the idea for the festival began after some Nepali writers attended the Jaipur Literature Festival in India and the experience was widely written about in the local media.

“The idea for the event has generated a lot of interest and excitement here in Kathmandu,” she told SWAN. “Everyone is keen to celebrate literature and ready to discuss different ideas and issues that are relevant in the sub-continent.”

Singh herself got involved because of her love of books and her experience in holding small literary events at a bookshop she runs in Kathmandu called Quixote’s Cove.

Free to the public, the festival will hold readings, talks, discussions, and performances at public venues on topics related to literature and language. Ten international and 50 national writers and poets have been invited, and the organizers promise “extensive interaction between the authors and readers”.

The festival also has the worthy aim of boosting literacy. In the run-up to the event, the organizers said in a statement: “Literacy allows for access to information and opportunities to pursue a better future. As Nepal enters the second decade of the 21st century, it has a population approaching 30 million and a literacy rate slightly above 50%. Reading and writing is only just starting to become a feature of Nepali culture and lifestyle. Till now literature in Nepal has largely been insulated within the languages of Nepal. As a result, the Nepali voice and conscience are largely absent from the global stage.”

Singh personally hopes the festival will help to change this. She says that the sessions planned cover a wide range of topics to reach out to a more diverse crowd, from intellectuals to people who rarely read books.

“There will be lots of parallel activities which will engage even those who normally wouldn't attend literary events,” she told SWAN. “It will hopefully give everyone who attends a memorable experience.” – A.M.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011


German reggae singer Patrice
The small town of Pauillac in southwest France is known more for red wine than for music, but from August 5 to 7 the region’s vineyards will rock to the sounds of Reggae Sun Ska, one of Europe's biggest reggae festivals.

The annual event in the heart of the Bordeaux region features musicians from Jamaica and other countries, and the organizers say they expect more than 50,000 spectators to turn up this year for the 14th anniversary.

Reggae veterans such as Big Youth, Toots and the Maytals, the Heptones and Linton Kwesi Johnson will share the stage with younger artists including the German singer Patrice, Jamaican diva Etana, and rising star Romain Virgo, winner of a major music competition in Kingston.
Stephen Marley

Stephen and Ky-Mani Marley, two of Bob Marley’s sons, and Andrew Tosh (son of Peter) will also be on hand - not only to remind fans of the heyday of reggae and the trail-blazing music their fathers created, but to present their own compositions as well.

Other scheduled performers hail from New Zealand (Katchafire and Ladi6), Guinea (Takana Zion), Guadeloupe (the energetic Admiral T) and Australia (Mista Savona).

Mainland France, which has numerous reggae groups, will be represented by artists such as Dub Inc., Wicked System, and Raggasonic Sound System, according to Sun Ska’s organizers.

Festival spokesperson Sophie Cadrouilh says the event aims to generate lots of “positive vibrations”, which may well be enhanced by some of the local wines. But the festival will also be environmentally friendly, with the use of bio-degradable cups and plates, and a solar generator providing some of the electricity.

The organizers have urged spectators to use public transportation or to team up with others when traveling by car. They’ve also made space available for free camping during the festival. See for more details.  - A.M.