The seventh edition of the annual Lahore Literary Festival (LLF) starts Friday, Feb. 22, at the Alhamra Arts Center. The three-day event will conclude on Sunday, Feb. 24.
This year’s lineup of thinkers and opinion makers from Pakistan and abroad includes Leila Aboulela, Eugene Rogan, Ayesha Jalal, Katherine Schofield, Francesca Orsini, Anissa Helou, Harriet Sandys, Rick Stroud, Mirza Waheed, Sanam Maher, Emily Hannam, Jamal Mahjoub, and many more. The festival’s program will be unveiled closer to the event. (Last year’s home edition featured Booker winner Ben Okri, Pulitzer winner Paul Salopek, Emmy winner Riz Ahmed, Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh, author and presenter Reza Aslan.)
The first ever edition of LLF kicked off in February 2013 with the return of author and activist Tariq Ali to the Pakistani stage. “Recognized internationally as a genuine liberal,” tweeted Imran Khan, now Prime Minister of Pakistan, Ali “supports [Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s] message of change for Pakistan at Lahore Literary Festival!”
LLF has been especially recognized in the global press. “LLF is … a treasure and the city should and will persevere with it. Literary festivals are 10-a-penny these days but the LLF is something special. Long may it last,” wrote Monty Python’s Michael Palin after his appearance in Lahore in 2017. “A wonder of creativity, eclecticism, ideas and dialogue,” wrote columnist and LLF speaker Roger Cohen in The New York Times two years earlier.
The BBC has called it “a celebration of a Pakistan open and engaged with the many ideas of many worlds” while Newsweek International said LLF “matched the famous Jaipur Literature Festival for the mood, the energy and the excitement … and it beat Jaipur for passion.”
LLF has also taken Pakistani voices and perspectives to audiences abroad. It has held three editions in New York, most recently in May, in association with Asia Society and its Creative Voices of Muslim Asia initiative. And it has hosted three editions in London, most recently in October, in collaboration with the British Library.
Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai appeared at the 2017 LLF in London for the global launch of her book Malala’s Magic Pencil.
LLF explores the dialogue and interface between literature and the arts that shape our cultural, social, economic, and political frameworks. The festival aims to bring together, discuss, and celebrate the diverse and pluralistic literary traditions of Lahore—a city of the arts, activism, and big ideas. LLF features discussions on a variety of subjects—fiction and nonfiction writing, music, painting, filmmaking, architecture, politics—to reclaim and employ Lahore’s rich and varied literary traditions.