The only international literary festival in the country, the Nepal Literature Festival is the playground for authors, public personalities and literature connoisseurs.
From its humble beginnings in 2011, the Festival has grown in stature and has brought together hundreds of national and international authors, activists, artists, intellectuals, economists and political figures to converse on various issues pertinent to our times. As the festival has grown, the discussions it gives birth to are becoming more diverse, inclusive and relatable. From intellectuals discussing the national economy and political figures being held answerable on the stage to poets serenading the crowds and writers connecting with their readers, the festival has become a platform for civic engagement, idea sharing and connecting.
About the Organizer
Behind this literary extravaganza is the Bookworm Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to the world of words. The Foundation is a collective of publishers, journalists and writers, who eat, breathe and sleep books. It was this foundation that envisaged a grand and all-encompassing literary festival in Nepal to promote writing, the arts and aesthetics.
Nepal saw its first ever international literature festival in 2011 on the premises of Gyan Mandala, Jhamsikhel. Driven by a single desire to celebrate the written word, the organizers of the Festival had plunged into uncharted waters.
This inaugural edition of the festival brought in some of the most creative minds from the literary world including international writers like Mark Tully and Ira Trivedi, in addition to over 60 eminent Nepali writers. With an array of events packed into a four–day–long schedule, the first edition of the festival served as a platform for dialogues among and between the writers and readers, building connections among literary figures and, most importantly, pushing Nepali literature to the forefront.
Although it was a maiden attempt, this edition was significant enough to drive forth many more editions, making it a much–sought–after literary event that the country’s literature lovers eagerly look forward to every year.
The success of the first edition of the Festival prompted the organizers to move the festival to a bigger site—the premises of the Nepal Academy— and hold simultaneous discussions in two venues.
With the previous editions setting an impressive benchmark, the third edition, which was inaugurated by Nepal’s ‘national poet’ Madhav Prasad Ghimire, reached a milestone by drawing almost 25,000 participants.
This festival welcomed renowned writers like Shobhaa De, Ravinder Singh, Prajwal Parajuly, Prakash Iyer, Anni Zaidi, Abhay K, Ned Beauman and Farah Ghuznavi, who participated alongside eminent Nepali litterateurs.
The fourth edition welcomed seven international writers and over 140 Nepali figures under one roof on the premises of the Nepal Academy, bringing readers closer to their favorite writers of different nationalities.
International writers participating in this edition included Shashi Tharoor, Farah Ghuznavi, Tishani Doshi, Carlo Pizzati, Basharat Peer, Haritosh Bal Singh and Matthieu Aikins.
The tremendous support shown by the audience was what enabled the organizers to pull off this festival for the fourth consecutive year. It became clear when a substantial number of participants defied all odds and showed up for all the sessions despite a heavy downpour. The audience ensured that the monsoon didn’t rain on Nepal Literature Festival’s parade.
Given the double whammy of the earthquake and the unofficial Indian blockade, 2015 was a bad year for Nepal, to say the least. Despite numerous attempts, the Nepal Literature Festival couldn’t go live that year. The fifth edition in 2016, however, was organized with a desire to recover from the year the festival lost.
With growing enthusiasm for the Festival over the years among both writers and audience, the aspiration to take it beyond Kathmandu, which buzzes with various kinds of literary events, became stronger. With a leap of faith, we took the Festival to Pokhara. We wanted to support the beautiful lake city‘s fledgling literary movement and tourism, which was hit hard by the earthquake and the blockade, by bringing in domestic and international tourists.
About 80 personalities from various fields including journalist Barkha Dutt and writer Ira Trivedi attended the fifth edition. The assortment of events for this edition showcased diverse themes, including Pokhara–related issues.
The Festival was held by the scenic Fewa Lake, with the lush green Raniban forest forming its backdrop. The beautiful Festival ambiance was accentuated by selected photos—which were part of Nepal’s first international photo festival ‘Photo Kathmandu’–on display for the audience to enjoy.
The Pokhara Festival became an instant hit with the participating writers and audience because of the venue abutting the scenic Fewa Lake, the stimulating conversations one can take part in and the vacation feel the city exudes. No wonder that we decided to hold subsequent editions of the Festival in Pokhara.