(January 23, 2011, Lanka Polity) Galle Literary Festival (GLF) will begin this week for the fifth time.
Noam Chomsky, Arundhati Roy and a few other writers together with Reporters Sans Frontiers (RSF) have urged the writers to keep away from the GLF due to alleged Freedom of Expression issues in Sri Lanka.
Most of the Sri Lankan writers actually keep away from GLF every year not because of the 'alleged Freedom of Expression issues in Sri Lanka' but simply because they are unaware of such a magnanimous literary event is held in Sri Lanka.
The so called big literary event is represented by just one or two actual local vernacular writers. The only name I saw among the participants as a recognised Sinhala language writer is Liyanage Amarakeerthi, a university lecturer, writer and critique.
The Ministry of Cultural Affairs of Sri Lanka is at least not in the list of sponsors although it is not essential the government sponsor the event. Interestingly, the state Tourism Promotion Bureau is among the prominent sponsors instead.
The literary festival that uses the name and the cultural significance of Sri Lanka's Southern Province capital Galle seems to have concrete base in Galle at all and in Sri Lanka too. For Sri Lankans and for the so called literary figures also that are in thie organization structure, this seems a mere tourism event.
Literature sans people is something extraordinary definitely. While appreciating the efforts rendered by the organizers to make this event 'a favourite of participants and audiences alike; named the best literary festival in the world' as mentioned in the GLF website, we beg them to make this an actual Sri Lankan event by getting down to earth at least to make it nationally known.
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