Guess who’s coming to the 2018 Fairway Galle Literary Festival? Local fans will be thrilled with the news that come January, FGLF will welcome Dame Maggie Smith, one of the finest actresses of her generation. The Oscar-winning British actress, known worldwide for her role as the doughty Professor Minerva McGonagall in the Harry Potter films [...]


Guess who will grace FGLF 2018? Maggie Smith

The British actress of Downton Abbey fame among list of participants that also includes legal luminary Sir Desmond de Silva

Much loved roles: Dame Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess in Downton Abbey and (below) Prof. McGonagall in Harry Potter

Guess who’s coming to the 2018 Fairway Galle Literary Festival? Local fans will be thrilled with the news that come January, FGLF will welcome Dame Maggie Smith, one of the finest actresses of her generation. The Oscar-winning British actress, known worldwide for her role as the doughty Professor Minerva McGonagall in the Harry Potter films and the imperious Dowager Countess of Grantham in the hit British TV series Downton Abbey will be exploring the skills of comedy acting at the FGLF to be held from January 24-28.

Often described as a ‘national treasure’ in the UK, the 82-year-old star, born Margaret Natalie Smith on December 28, 1934 in Essex has won two Academy Awards for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969) and California Suite (1978). She is also a four-time Bafta winner, and fans will also recall her memorable performances as a homeless old woman in The Lady in the Van (2015) and as Muriel, the retired housekeeper in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011) and its sequel, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2015).

Dame Maggie Smith apart, the second announcement of participants in the forthcoming Fairway Galle Literary Festival, made this week includes writers of fiction and of memoir, lawyers, diplomats, journalists, editors, performance poets, curators, architects, historians and economists.

Sir Desmond de Silva’s biographical volume “Madam, Where Are Your Mangoes?” sold out within minutes of its launch in London just weeks ago. One reason for this was his considerable talent as a speaker: witty, urbane and accomplished, his solo performance “Desmond Uninterrupted’ promises to be one of the sought after events of the Fairway Galle Literary Festival. Justice Shiranee Tilakawardane’s presentation of three murder cases will afford the audience a nuanced appreciation of the human complexities of the judicial system, and of the challenge of balancing a concern for victims with society’s desire for closure.

A familiar figure in Sri Lanka, former Indian High Commissioner Nirupama Menon Rao, who went on to become Foreign Secretary of India, will speak about her new book on Sino-Indian relations, while Kiryl Rudy will delve into behaviour economics and the nudge theory, currently in the forefront of international economic discourse.

History will be brought to life by Nisid Hajari, author of “Midnight’s Furies: The Deadly Legacy of India’s Partition,” winner of the 2016 Colby Award,

Visiting journalists Justine Picardine and Rachael Johnson will bring their wide experience of journalism and editing to the FGLF 2018, while Australian Sallyanne Atkinson will share her experience as the first female Lord-Mayor of Sydney. Sallyanne grew up on a tea estate and will also share her experience of this distinctive lifestyle.

Two hundred years and two months since the remarkable English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote his seminal “Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner”, Rev. Dr. Malcolm Guite, Chaplain of Girton College Cambridge, will offer insights of his new study of Coleridge’s famous narrative poem, revealing the remarkable continuing freshness and relevance of the mariner’s message.

Environmental architect Sunela Jayawardene’s  travelogue “Line of Lanka” also explores the oral tradition in history and story-telling, deftly chronicling its impact on archaeology. Udeni Samarasekera will offer her take on the oral tradition in literature in a session entitled “Literature Without Words”. The spoken word artist Laurence Boissier will share with audiences her original oral work combining language and dialect. She will also read from her first novel, “Rentre de Classes”. Her visit is made possible by the generous cultural partnership of Pro Helvetia – Swiss Arts Council.

German writer Michael Kumpfmüller who joins FGLF through the sponsorship of cultural partner, the Goethe-Institut will speak about his exquisitely written novel based on the last year in the life of Franz Kafka. “The Glory of Life”, the events of which take place in 1924, the same year as the Olympics on which ‘Chariots of Fire’ is based, is a stunning testimony to the ordinariness of true beauty, and of how much closer to our reach it maybe than we so often think. Like Maylis de Kerangal, whose visit is made possible by the generous sponsorship of the Alliance Française de Kotte, Michael will also conduct writing workshops.

South African writer Calvyn Gilfellan whose visit is sponsored and facilitated by the High Commission for South Africa will also revisit the past by exploring the Dutch Fort of South Africa and exploring the redemptive possibilities of previously oppressive spaces.

Performance is an important part of the Festival, and the celebrated contemporary Bangladeshi band Chirkutt, who will be at FGLF courtesy the High Commission for Bangladesh, will perform twice during the Festival, as will performance poet Carlos Andres Gomes. The participation of the piano duet         of Ivana Alkovic and Maarten den Hengst has been made possible by the Dutch Embassy.

The Festival, now in its ninth year, takes place with the generous sponsorship of the title sponsor Fairway Holdings. This is the third occasion on which Fairway Holdings is providing the title sponsorship of the Festival. The Tourist Board of Sri Lanka is the Official Destination Partner, Jetwing Hotels the Official Hospitality Partner, Sri Lanka Telecom is the Official Telecom Partner andthe DFCC Bank is the Official Banking Partner.

The Festival  also includes two important programmes which very considerably widen its reach. The Children’s Outreach Programme will this year be sponsored by the American Embassy and the North-South Programme sponsored by the German Embassy.

The full list of the second announcement of authors is as follows:

  • Charles Allen
  • Sallyanne Atkinson
  • Laurence Boissier
  • Siddharth Dasgupta
  • Louis de Bernières
  • Sir Desmond de Silva
  • Calvyn Gilfellan
  • Carlos Andres Gomes
  • The Reverend Doctor Malcolm Guite
  • Nisid Hajari
  • Sunela Jayawardene
  • Sandra Jensen
  • Rachael Johnson
  • Ute Krause
  • Michael Kumpfmüller
  • Angus Leendertz
  • Sonnet Mondal
  • Justine Picardine
  • Shiromi Pinto
  • Nalin Ranasinghe
  • Nirupama Rao
  • Michael Roc Thomas
  • Kiryl Rudy
  • Udeni Samarasekara
  • Niti Sampat Patel
  • Dame Maggie Smith
  • Justice Shiranee Tilakawardane
  • Gayathri Warnakulasuriya

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