Silk Road Literary Festival

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The Silk Road Literary Festival exists to raise the profile of literature from and about Central Asia and the Silk Road, and to support the development of the region’s publishing sector through technical assistance and capacity building. The festival has a board of trustees, an organising committee and advisory board, and a strong network of partners and sponsors.



Sophie Ibbotson

Sophie Ibbotson is the Director of the Silk Road Literary Festival and the Chairman of the Royal Society for Asian Affairs. Since 2008 she has worked in Central Asia as an advisor to the Governments of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, and to the World Bank. Sophie is the author of five titles for Bradt Travel Guides, and has also written for publications including The Telegraph, Financial Times, and The Economist.

Steph Adams

Steph Adams is a recent graduate from University of Plymouth, working as a PR and Research Assistant for Maximum Exposure for the last five years. She has lived in Central Asia, Russia, and the Caucasus, and has helped research Bradt’s guidebooks to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Her work has been published in TNT Magazine, The Travel Magazine, and Vagabond Imperative.

Samantha Knights

Samantha Knights is the Chairman of the Silk Road Literary Festival’s board of trustees. As one of the UK’s leading barristers, she is instructed in a wide range of complex cases involving trafficking and modern slavery, refugee, immigration and nationality law. Sam is also the Co-founder of Shute Festival and Adjunct Professor at University of Miami School of Law, where she teaches International Human Rights Law.

Kamola Makhmudova

Kamola Makhmudova is Finance Director of the Silk Road Literary Festival. A specialist in international development and green finance, she is Head of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in Azerbaijan. Kamola is a Co-founder of Khan Academy Uzbek and led the crowd funding for Green Bukhara, a community initiative to plant climate resilient shrubs and trees.

Dinara Dultaeva

Dinara Dultaeva is the founder and CEO of Dinara&Co, an international publishing company specialising in luxury books, innovative digital solutions, and nation branding, and also of DNA Communications, Uzbekistan’s first integrated communications agency. Dinara is the publisher and editor-in-chief of the Visit Uzbekistan and Dynamic Uzbekistan magazines.

Andrew Staniland

Andrew Staniland is an English poet whose poems are classical in style and whose source of inspiration is contemporary spiritual practice. In addition to his own collections, which include A Georgian Anthology, A New Diwan H/T Alisher Navoiy, and In Couplets, he has also translated poetry by Navoiy and Cho’lpon.

Aazam Abidov

Aazam Abidov is a poet, translator, short story writer, and cultural adviser from Uzbekistan. He is one of the founders of the Creative Writing and Translation Club, an events coordinator for the World Poetry Movement, and he also organises writers’ residencies.

Mark Reese

Mark Reese has more than 25 years of experience developing programmes in the arenas of education, media, and security in the USA and Central Asia. He is a translator of Uzbek literature, including the novel O’tgan Kunlar (Bygone Days) by Abdulla Qodiriy, and the creator of the Muloqot Cultural Engagement Program.

Nafisa Feeney

Nafisa Feeney is an Uzbek lawyer, business scholar, writer, and poet. She was a consultant to the Uzbek Senate and has worked on projects for many international organisations including UNDP, ADB, and EuropeAID. Nafisa hosts the Book Tashkent programme and is known as The Book Sommelier on account of her popular recommendations on Facebook and her Telegram channel.

Deborah Dunham

Deborah Dunham helps people and international non-profit organisations to reach their full potential through capacity building and sustainable organisational change. She was the on-site project consultant for the Aga Khan Trust for Culture’s reconstruction of Babur’s Garden in Kabul, and has also been a consultant to the Royal Geographical Society, Turquoise Mountain Foundation, and the Al Madad Foundation.


The organisers of the Silk Road Literary Festival would particularly like to thank Maximum Exposure and Shute Festival, without whom the 2022 online festival would not be possible. We are also grateful for the support of the following partners: