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The rise and fall of the Bayt-al-Hikmah

By Mini Krishnan

Baghdad was once home to the world’s largest translation centre.

Within 25 years of the death of their Prophet, the Arabs conquered the whole of Persia, Syria, Armenia, and a bit of Central Asia. In the east, they reached the Indus river and Sindh. In the west, they swept across Egypt and northern Africa, crossed the seas and landed at Gibraltar. In time, Spain too fell.

They were soon in possession of a different kind of power. In 751 AD, they captured Chinese paper-makers. This knowledge changed the nature of how writing was shared and stored. When the strongest people in the world saw the importance of establishing libraries, learning sprang up everywhere in their footsteps. Muslims were the first people to show an interest in translating manuscripts and scrolls from cultures other than theirs. Popularly known as the knowledge empire of the caliphs, there followed a history of 500 years of Islamic library building. By the ninth century, scholars in Cordoba and Spain were corresponding with their counterparts in Cairo, Bokhara, Samarkand and Baghdad. Baghdad! Persian for “gift from God”! Read more

Source: The Hindu

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Depiction of women in literature through ages

By Ankita Shukla

Literature has witnessed the roles of women evolving through ages, but until recent times, most of the published writers were men and the portrayal of women in literature was without doubt biased. A lot of it has to be blamed on the fact that in the ancient world, literacy was strictly limited, and the majority of those who could write were male. However, the contribution of women to oral folklore cannot be taken for granted – in folk songs, stories, poetry and literature in general. Here’s a look at how women were portrayed in literature through eras.

During the Victorian era, there was an unending debate over the roles of women. While the era was dominated by writers who treated women as angelic figures- innocent, physically weaker and nothing less than household commodities; Edwardian poetry spoke of women’s rights gathering much attention, feminism and females getting out of their homes during the war times. Read more

Source: The Times of India

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Jakarta: Young Lombok Women Fight for Equality Through Literature

Recent tensions surrounding religious and ethnic intolerance in Indonesia can place individuals with alternative or liberal views on the sidelines, sometimes suppressing those views altogether.

Such is the reality for several young women on the island of Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara, when it comes to voicing unconventional perspectives on identity, sexuality and self-expression through writing.

Female writers of short stories and poetry in the provincial capital of Mataram are often prevented from expressing opinions that contradict or offer an alternative to social norms, in fear of retribution from the social milieu.

Other writers might commonly craft tales about a conventional romance between man and woman, for instance, that reinforces values of a moderate, religiously devout and patriarchal social system.

Amid the island’s relatively conservative attitudes on topics such as marriage, gender roles and sexuality, those who transgress are a limited few. Read more

Source: Jakarta Globe


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Why everyone’s writing about our sex lives


From his studio in his lovely Goa house, surrounded by old mango trees, Aman K (his pseudonym) conjures up a world of sexually unfulfilled Indian women. Or, to quote the titles of one of his six self-published mini e-books this past year, Married But Looking: Confessions Of An Indian Housewife. It’s the urban Indian reality as he sees it, and translating it into erotica comes easily enough to him. His protagonists are married women stuck in a rut, seeking appreciation and attention.

Aman has always found it easy to be around women and to get them to share their stories. “The problem with Indian men is that they treat their woman like a slave in public and a queen in bed. It has to be the other way around if they truly want to be happy,” he says.Read more

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Indonesia: A journey to fairyland

The Negeri Dongeng Nusantara (Nusantara fairyland) exhibition at Kemang’s Dia.Lo.Gue, which runs until Aug. 20, brings to life the stories of our nation through a series of illustrations from works of children’s literature.

The Negeri Dongeng Nusantara (Nusantara fairyland) exhibition takes us on a journey far, far away, yet it is somewhere close to our childhood memories.

When we were younger, chances are we were read stories about young princes and princesses, animals who talked, danced, and raced and knights and warriors who fought monsters to save the day. The stories came from books, books that contained pictures which communicated the reality — or in this case fantasy — of the stories, making us keen to read on and subconsciously absorb the moral lessons.

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PEN to hold lit-teaching workshop in Davao

THE PHILIPPINE Center of International PEN (Poets, Playwrights, Essayists, Novelists) will hold the Davao leg of its literature-teaching training workshop series, “For Love of the Word: Workshops on Teaching Philippine Literature in High School and College,” on Aug. 22 and 23 in Davao City

PEN’s partners in the workshop are Ateneo de Davao University and the literature teachers’ organization, Samahan ng mga Guro ng Panitikan sa Davao.

The Davao workshop will focus on 21st Century Literatures from the Philippines. It will be held at F213, second floor, Finster Hall, Ateneo de Davao, Roxas Avenue, Davao City.

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Online literature is inspiring top-grossing Chinese movies

If China’s film market is a flame burning bright, the country’s online literature is increasingly itsfuel.

The world’s second-largest film market, with a box office haul of $6.8 billion in 2015, ischurning out top-grossing movies inspired by popular novels published online.

As the self-publishing phenomenon has shaken up the literary scene in the West, writers inChina have increasingly eschewed conventional publishing models and found readers on theinternet. Online-only publishers have sprung up, and their releases are proving hugelypopular. Continue reading

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Tokyo’s literature festival resurfaces

The Tokyo International Literary Festival got off to a good start. Both the inaugural 2013 event and the 2014 edition were successful, an auspicious beginning to forging cultural and artistic connections between Eastern and Western writers on a global stage. But since the festival’s forced hiatus in 2015 due to leadership changes, it has had to wade through a sea of troubles to stay afloat.

Resurfacing this year, the festival will run from March 2 to 6 at various venues around Tokyo. Headliners include an impressive lineup from both sides of the Pacific. The Festival sets off with an opening session featuring esteemed poet and scholar Elizabeth Alexander, two-time Pushcart Prize-winner Seth Fried, Chinese-American writer Yiyun Li and 2015 Akutagawa Prize-winner, Masatsugu Ono, discussing cultural and artistic connections in literature.

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Over 100 writers to attend Dubai literature festival

More than 100 writers have confirmed their presence for the 2016 Emirates Airline Festival of Literature said Isobel Abulhoul CEO and trustee of the Emirates Literature Foundation and festival director of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. Organisers say monthly announcements of writers participating in the upcoming festival which will take place from March 8 to 12 next year will continue up until the launch in October of this year. They have released the first set of 12 writers which has drummed up great deal of excitement among book lovers. “The official launch of the 2016 Festival will be in October and our author list to date looks incredible” Isobel Abulhoul said.

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Emirates Airline Festival of Literature scoops best festival award

The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature has been named best festival at the Middle East Event Awards for the third consecutive year.

There were many UAE rivals to beat this year, including the Zayed Heritage Festival, Ajyal Youth Film Festival, Sharjah International Book Fair, Dubai Food Carnival and F1’s music festival Yasalam 2014 also nominated in the category.

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