Imagine the world

imagine the world

Hay Festival Dhaka takes place in November 2015 in the historic grounds of the Bangla Academy in Dhaka.

In 2014 Hay Festival Dhaka spanned three full days, with events in multiple venues. The festival takes inspiration from Bangladesh's great literary tradition while broadening its horizons. Creative thinkers from the region and thirteen different countries engaged with the vibrant, energetic and politically savvy audience at this energetic, thought-provoking festival.

Telling stories in different ways, and pushing the boundaries of the mind, were themes. Highlights included international and local writers, poets, artists, philosophers and scientists: Shashi Tharoor, Syed Shamsul Haq, Jung Chang, Joy Goswami, William Dalrymple, John Ralston Saul, Javed Jahangir, Marcus du Sautoy, Zia Haider Rahman, Rana Dasgupta, Mirza Waheed, Lucy Hawking, Shaheen Akhter and Gideon Haigh.

Hay Festival Dhaka

Panel discussions at the festival covered urban metamorphosis with all its tensions. Speakers celebrated the seeking of truth and knowledge through both ancient wisdom and scientific thinking, and explored the intersection between the personal and the political.

Hay Festival Dhaka also features exciting children's events, ranging through adventures in folk myths and different galaxies. We focus on the diverse expression of imagination and the power of writing. In the words of Welsh National poet Gillian Clarke: 'To be here is a privilege. This is a space where language and writing matters – life and death matters – and that's an amazing aspiration.'

  • Shashi Tharoor

    From Personal To Political

    Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Great Indian Novel and its first Bangla translation, award-winning author Shashi Tharoor discussed his literary journey.

  • Jung Chang

    Unbinding Tongues

    Jung Chang’s bestseller Wild Swans revealed the history of China’s twentieth century through the story of three generations of women. Continuing this thread of empowerment, Chang talked to Hay Festival's Peter Florence about the most important woman in Chinese history – Empress Dowager Cixi.

  • Zia Haider Rahman


    Firdous Azim talked to the Bangladeshi-born writer Zia Haider Rahman to uncover the intricacies of his debut novel In The Light of What We Know.

  • Lucy Hawking

    Cosmic Adventures

    Lucy Hawking explored the universe in fascinating interactive sessions for children, based on her books co-written with her father, world-famous cosmologist Stephen Hawking.

  • TJ Dema

    The Spoken Word

    A treat for poetry lovers, with powerful recitations from veterans such as Iranian-born Mimi Khalvati, Asad Chowdhury and Rafiq Azad, as well as performances from a new generation of voices, including Cambodia's Kosal Khiev and Botswana's TJ Dema.

  • Bangla

    Bangla: New Splendour

    From acapella Nazrul to Bangla rap, the Bangla literary and cultural scene has never been as exciting, controversial and vibrant as it is today.


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2014 highlights

  • John Ralston Saul
  • Syed Shamsul Haq
  • Jung Chang
  • Zia Haider Rahman
  • Mimi Khalvati
  • Aamer Hussein
  • Lucy Hawking
  • William Dalrymple
  • Tahmima Anam
  • Gideon Haigh
  • Salil Tripathi
  • Shashi Tharoor
  • and many more
Hay Festival Dhaka 2014