A strong mix of literary writers, top names from politics, academia, broadcasting

Britain's first major literary festival devoted entirely to south Asian writing represented by what the organisers said would be a “blend” of established and new voices from the region will be held here from October 15 to 25 .

It will later travel to other cities. Announcing the details, co-directors of the DSC South Asian Literature Festival, Jon Slack and Bhavit Mehta, said nothing so ambitious had been attempted before.

“Our programme is a strong mix of high-profile literary writers and top names from politics, academia and broadcasting that people will be familiar with, but we're also deeply committed to supporting new and emerging talent. We wanted to reflect the diverse nature of South Asian culture, exploring the politics, languages and literature of the region – we hope there will be something for everyone,” they said.

With more than 30 parallel events spread across London it would be the first “outreach” literary event of its kind.

“Accessibility is really the key. Rather than holding it at one place and expecting people to come there we are taking the festival to people where they are. We are breaking the conventional format in order to reach out to people who are not normally exposed to this kind of activity. It is about connecting communities,”' Mr. Slack told The Hindu, rejecting the view that it might leave event-hoppers with a logistic nightmare.

Well-known Sri Lankan novelist Romesh Gunesekera admitted that when he was first told about plans for such a festival he didn't really believe that it would happen. The sheer scale appeared too ambitious and “unrealistic” and he was delighted to have been proved wrong. He said festivals were important in fostering a culture of reading and writing.

“This promises to be an exciting new festival with imaginative programming and firm commitment,” said Mr. Gunesekera, who would take part in a discussion on the relationship between the people of south Asia and cricket and Commonwealth Games.

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