Every city worth its name has at least one important cultural event. Locarno and Cannes have film festivals; Frankfurt and London have book fairs; Venice and Tokyo, art festivals; and Wales, Jaipur and New York all have literature festivals. So we asked ourselves, why not Kathmandu? And so, the idea of having a literary festival of our own was born.
The Nepal Literature Festival, organised by the Bookworm Foundation, thus began in 2011 as a humble event held in Kathmandu. Since then, it has only grown in stature, bringing together hundreds of national and international authors, activists, artists, intellectuals, economists, and politicians to converse on issues both literary and non-literary. True to its founding ethos, it has given space to diverse — often competing — ideas and unheard voices over the years, and has remained a free event for all to attend.
Having organised the Festival in Kathmandu for the first four editions, we decided to shifted the event to Pokhara in 2016 to take literary activities beyond the capital city which already buzzes with various kinds of similar events. With a leap of faith, the Festival went to Pokhara to support the beautiful lake city's fledgling literary movement and tourism, which was hit hard by the 2015 earthquake and the Indian blockade.
Today, the Festival has become a yearly red-calendar affair for Nepal's literature enthusiasts and has spun off into many literary events that take place from Mechi to Mahakali. Held against the picturesque backdrop of Pokhara, typically in early December, this literary celebration holds an esteemed place on Nepal’s cultural landscape, eagerly anticipated by aficionados of literature. As the country’s premier international literary extravaganza, it serves as a vibrant arena where authors, public figures, and devotees of literature converge. Their conversations span an array of pressing contemporary subjects and reverberate throughout Nepali society long after the Festival is over.
The Kathmandu Post, in its editorial of December 24, 2019, called the Festival “an internationally renowned celebration of the written word that has united hundreds of thousands of writers and readers alike."