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David Blacker’s Blog

Let’s Put a Stop to the Galle Literary Festival


(Fazal/Flickr)

I’ve been noticing a sort of trend of thought recently in regard to the GLF and the people that organize it. Namely that it’s an elitist piece of foreign trash that has been foisted on the unsuspecting citizens of Galle in particular, and Sri Lanka in general. It doesn’t represent True Sri Lankan Culture, and according to one Galle Blogger doesn’t do anything to help the culturally challenged victims of Galle. So what use is it? It’s just a bunch of foreigners and some Colombo English writers who pretend to be Sri Lankan, right? They even forgot to invite the Local Writers. And they didn’t let local journalists interview Gore Vidal. Why, you ask? Well, just because the local journos have never heard of Gore Vidal and never bothered to read his books before arriving in Galle, hot and thirsty, shouldn’t they be allowed to ask him silly questions about Sinhalese literature? Continue reading

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February 7, 2008 Posted by | Literature | , , , , , | 31 Comments

Snapshots of the Galle Lit: #2 The Gay Cliche

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Jake Oorloff performs Voicing Silence

Day one of my Galle Literary Festival was long and hot and ended on the balcony of the Rampart Hotel in the Fort (or so I thought). One of the two sessions I’d been to had been excellent, so a 50% hit rate didn’t seem too bad. The gang was ready to head back to Unawatuna and something a bit more hard-hitting than the not-very-cold beer at the Rampart, but my girlfriend had convinced me to stay and watch the theatre performance that was about to start. So OK, I’d rather be at a boring play with her than off on my own, and what the hell, how bad can this performance be? Continue reading

January 22, 2008 Posted by | Literature | , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Snapshots of the Galle Lit: #1 Bloggers Take Themselves Way Too Seriously

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The session Bloggers: Can They be Taken Seriously? was one of the few I attended at the Galle Literary Festival. And it was fucking boring.

I wasn’t involved at all in the festival this year, so I was determined to just relax and go only for events I really was interested in (didn’t happen quite like that, but that’s a different post). I discovered blogs and bloggers only a few years ago when I was interviewed for the now defunct site Moju, and it was a great discovery. I was living in Europe, and Sri Lankan blogs suddenly provided me with a view of Colombo that the newspapers just couldn’t provide. It has been a tempestuous relationship; I’ve had my first novel reviewed on a blog, I’ve been asked to contribute to a couple of blogs, I often get sucked into online brawls that seem to continuously rage across the comments forums in the Sri Lankan blogosphere. I also got asked out quite a bit, once I got back to Colombo, and even had a one night stand on the strength of a comment I made on a blog forum. Blogs have made me angry, they’ve made me think, they’ve made me laugh, and they’ve got me laid. Blogs are to me everything that the blog session at the Galle Lit wasn’t. Stilted, boring, one-sided, and in the end, a waste of time, is not how I would describe the Sri Lankan blogosphere. 

Personally, I feel that the person responsible for organising that session, didn’t really understand the atmosphere and personality of Sri Lankan blogging, best experienced at Kottu, which is a Sri Lankan blog aggregator. The session was held at the hot and stuffy Maritime Museum in the Galle Fort, which is a beautiful building, but not really suited for a vibrant discussion. Putting a bunch of people on a stage and having a moderator and audience might work well traditionally, but blogging isn’t traditional, nor so formal. I think it would have been far more conducive to exchange if the whole operation had been conducted just down the road in the bar of the Fort Hotel, where we could have all sat around drinking, smoking and heckling — as we do every day online. Continue reading

January 21, 2008 Posted by | Literature | , , , | 50 Comments