Pamuk, Desai won’t be at GLF

Diplomatic efforts to get Turkish Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk and Booker Prize winning writer Kiran Desai to take part in next week’s Galle Literary Festival Galle failed yesterday.

“The Indian High Commission here in Colombo has gone beyond its call of duty to assist us in this regard, together with its counterparts in Istanbul. High level assurances of a smooth re-entry for Mr. Pamuk unfortunately were not enough to allay his fears that he would not be allowed to re enter India after the festival,” the organisers said in a statement.

Pamuk & Desai

Meanwhile the Presidential Secretariat in a statement yesterday denied that Mr. Pamuk’s absence at the GLF had any link to Free Expression issues in Sri Lanka as has been speculated after the Paris-based Reporters without Borders (RSF) issued a boycott call. This call has been backed by another Booker Prize winning Indian writer Arundhati Roy as well as Noam Chomsky.

“Mr. Pamuk had informed the organizers of the Galle Literary Festival (GLF) in early January 2011 that he would be unable to participate in the Festival, due to what he considered to be Indian visa restrictions.

Any attempts to link the non-participation of Orhan Pamuk at the GLF to an alleged situation about Freedom of Expression in Sri Lanka is therefore wholly unfounded, and only serves the agenda of those seeking to tarnish the image of Sri Lanka abroad,” the President’s Office said.

The GLF organizers said that both Mr. Pamuk and Ms Desai had said they were saddened by their inability to attend the festival.

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