Exploring ‘People, Planet, and Possibilities’ in Karachi

‘The Karachi Literature Festival is not just an event, but a movement that aims to spread the joy of reading and the light of learning across the country’.

OUP Pakistan was proud to host the anticipated 14th edition of the three-day Literature festival under the theme ‘People, Planet, and Possibilities’. Pakistani writers, academics and thought leaders came together to join expert panels and author talks in intellectual discourse.

Sessions held focused on a variety of topics such as environment, climate change, education, Edtech, economy, and D&I. Key sessions on education included ‘student-teacher wellbeing’ and ‘the role of technology in enhancing student learning’ while emphasizing the need to reform curricula to incorporate new developments in technology.

We also hosted 24 book launches during the Festival—ten were OUP titles.

The theme covered the consequences of climate change — notable considering the catastrophic floods in Pakistan in 2022—as well as addressing the educational deficits and the promise of education technology. ‘In difficult times, the Karachi Literature Festival (KLF) has an important role to play in becoming a beacon of hope and exploring solutions and possibilities’, said Arshad Husain, OUP Pakistan’s Managing Director.

More than 130,000 guests attended the festival in person to hear from 200 speakers representing eight different countries, including two Booker Prize winning authors, South African playwright and novelist Damon Galgut in 2021 and Sri Lanka’s Shehan Karunatilaka for 2022. The online audience was even larger, reaching around 889,000 people across Facebook and Instagram.

Star speakers

Keynote speakers included, Noorul Huda Shah, Dramatist, short story writer and poet, and Sherry Rehman, Federal Minister for Climate Change and Environment. Renowned humanitarian Dr Adeebul Hasan Rizvi, one of the guests of honour shared an emotive call to prioritise the education and healthcare needs of the people of Pakistan.

Climate change and climate justice

The session on ‘vulnerability and resilience’ in the face of climate change was based on a report by Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. Environment experts, activists, and journalists discussed the increasing frequency and intensity of natural disasters and extreme weather events, with communities across the globe becoming more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

Award winners

Seven literary awards for Pakistani authors were also announced. The prizes, supported by our sponsors, recognise pioneering work in Urdu prose and poetry, and English fiction. Best of Friends by Kamila Shamsie won the fiction book prize. Prizes were also awarded for the best books in Sindhi, Balochi, Punjabi, and Pashto languages.

Attendance to the KLF sessions was open to everyone at the Beach Luxury Hotel in Karachi; home to KLF for many years. Sessions were free and available online via social media for our global audience. This proved successful with KLF ranking in the top 5 trending topics on Twitter in Pakistan.

Commenting at the close of the event, Arshad said: “I am humbled and inspired by the overwhelming response we have received from our attendees. KLF is not just an event, but a movement that aims to spread the joy of reading and the light of learning across the country. I am grateful to all our speakers, panellists, and performers who have travelled from far and wide to be with us and inspire us with their thoughts and ideas.”

Watch the live streams from the Karachi Literature Festival on YouTube here and see the full programme here.