Day two of the Nepal Literature Festival
December 23, Pokhara – The second day of the 2022 Nepal Literature Festival kicked off with an opening speech by Booker Prize-winning author Shehan Karunatilaka. In this address to the Festival, Karunatilaka spoke about his own writing and writing the kinds of books that you want to read. “I hope that you engage with writers you might not have otherwise and that you find a story only you can write,” said Karunatilaka, who won the 2022 Booker Prize of his novel, The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida.
Following Karunatilaka’s speech, the first session of the day was with Nepali-American writer Samrat Upadhyay and Nepal-based writer and translator Muna Gurung, moderated by Indian-Nepali editor Anurag Basnet. The session, titled ‘Can creative writing be taught?’, discussed the finer aspects of teaching creative writing and how much is possible to actually learn about a creative craft like writing from a classroom.
At the same time that this session was taking place in the Bhupi Hall, on the other side of the Festival grounds, in the Ali Miya Hall, a discussion was being held around social justice with rights activist Pradip Pariyar and Sujita Shakya, moderated by Kiran BK. The session discussed whether social justice was taking society forward or backward, concluding that social justice was necessary and would lead to a more progressive society.
The next session at the Bhupi Hall was with Dadi Sapkota and Anuj Ghimire, moderated by Devendra Bhattarai, about the life and times of animals and birds. The session discussed habitat destruction and the challenges that animals and birds face in today’s environment where deforestation is rampant.
The Festival also saw the launch of the book Yashodhara by Haribol Kafle. Shital Dahal and Jiwan Kshetri discussed the characters and plot of the book. Former Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli was in a conversation with journalist Akhanda Bhandari. The session discussed Oli’s life outside of his political career where he even discussed a poem that he had written while he was jailed for his political activities. Oli’s session was followed by a discussion between Indian-American writer and professor Suketu Mehta and journalist and writer Pranaya Rana. The session, titled ‘Journalism as literature’, was a broad discussion on long form narrative journalism. “The three basic elements of long form narrative nonfiction are story, statistics, and statement,” said Mehta.
The two speakers discussed the future of journalism, especially long form journalism, in an environment saturated by social media. At the same time, in the Ali Miya Hall, former Member of Parliament Bidya Bhattarai, Pokhara Mayor Dhanaraj Acharya and industrialist Ananda Raj Mulmi held a discussion on the city of Pokhara,
moderated by Amrit Subedi. The session discussed the past, present and future of Pokhara and what kind of city the residents and its leaders envision for Nepal’s second-largest city.
Following this spirited discussion, Indian author Shrayana Bhattacharya was in conversation with journalist Sewa Bhattarai about her book, Desperately Seeking Shah Rukh. Bhattacharya related how often she had to explain that the book wasn’t really about Shah Rukh Khan but was just a research framework to talk about women in the labor force and their participation in the Indian economy. "Women do not want to marry Shah Rukh Khan, they want to be him! As successful as him!” said Bhattacharya. The final session of the day concerned translation and was held between Saguna Shah, Ujjwal Prasai and Ganess Paudel, moderated by Binod Bikram KC. The discussion centered around the difficulty of capturing the essence of one language into another and whether it is possible to achieve a translation that is true to the original. The second day of the Nepal Literature Festival ended once again with a musical session, ‘100 years of modern Nepal music’. The session, organised by the Gandaki Academy in association with Nepal Music and Drama Academy, featured numerous musicians and singers performing modern Nepali music and paying tribute to modernist artists.