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The Karachi Literature Festival heads to London to celebrate Pakistan’s 70th birthday

The famous literature festival will take place at Southbank Centre on 20th May in celebration of Pakistan’s 70th birthday, states KLF’s website.

Mohammed Hanif will kickstart the event with unique insights into Pakistan’s history, hopes, and dilemmas. The extensive list of speakers includes designer Maheen Khan, writers Kamila Shamsie and H M Naqvi, PPP member Sherry Rehman, actor Nimra Bucha, among others.

Khumariyaan, Saif Samejo, lead vocalist and founder of the band The Sketches and Lahooti Melo will be performing at the festival.

This is the first time the KLF will be taking place outside of Pakistan. Read more

Source: DAWN


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Kalam: Hindi literary event set for London debut

London/ Kolkata, Mar 18 : The popular Indian literary event Kalam will make its international debut on Sunday in London, under the aegis of Kolkata-based Prabha Khaitan Foundation in association with London-based Vidyapath.

With the onset of the Kalam series, poets and litterateurs from the world of Hindi literature will get an opportunity to meet with a select global audience in London, the organisers said.

Kalam is a literary event in which an eminent author engages in a free wheeling tete-a-tete session with a select audience comprising people from different walks of life. Read more

Source: New Kerala


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The Lounge Chair Interview: 10 Questions with Rabi Thapa

By Aminah Sheikh

rabi-thapa

Let’s get down to brass tacks. Why do you write?

It’s tempting to blame it on inner impulses that would devour me if I didn’t, but that wouldn’t be the whole story, especially with non-fiction. Simply put, I’m better at writing than I am at most other things I’ve tried my hand at (though not necessarily better at writing than most other people), and the act gives me pleasure of a laboured kind. That’s more than what you can say for most kinds of work, and believe me, the complete act of writing – from conception to execution to almost-perfection – is work.

Tell us about your most recent book or writing project. What were you trying to say or achieve with it?

Speaking Tiger has just published my second book, Thamel:Dark Star of Kathmandu, a biography of the tourist quarter that grew out of a medieval Buddhist settlement in Kathmandu. Writing about a place like Thamel is not, on the face of it, an urgently necessary task. At least not as obviously so as a book on our relationships with Nature (my next writing project). Nonetheless, I feel it’s useful to obtain an understanding of the totality of the environments we have spent significant time in – past, present and future. This is what Thamel means to achieve, as much as the book on Nature: to deepen our understanding of our built and natural environments, and thereby of ourselves, so we can reconsider and improve on our interactions with them.

Describe your writing aesthetic.

I’m no fan of bald writing that means to drive home a social message, nor lazy writing dragged along by a pacy, racy narrative. With both fiction and non-fiction, I hope to provide serious reading pleasure, without being carried away by either the message or the medium.

Who are your favorite authors?

Those I haven’t read – names I know, names I don’t know, names that haven’t seen the light of day. They represent the titillating totality of my ignorance.

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Book Review: Genghis Khan and the Quest for God: How the World’s Greatest Conqueror Gave Us Religious Freedom by Jack Weatherford

By Simon Winchester

genghis

Thirty-one years ago, while on a railway journey between London and Hong Kong, I stopped off in Mongolia and to a briefly illustrative encounter.

At the time the British had the sole Western embassy in Ulan Bator — at 30 Peace Street, if I remember — and I thought I might interview the ambassador and present him, as it was early December and he was said to cut a lonesome and homesick figure, with a Christmas plum pudding. I rang the mission’s doorbell and must have looked faintly taken aback when it was opened by a young man of evidently Caribbean origin.

“Don’t be startled,” he said cheerfully, in a broad Welsh accent. “I’m Trevor Jones, first secretary. From Cardiff. I think I’m the only black man in the diplomatic service, and look see, they pack me off to bloody Ulan Bator!”

Back in 1985 that set the tone. Mongolia. Utterly out there. Grass. Ponies. Wrestling. Forgotten. Of no importance. Genghis Khan maybe. A brute. Otherwise, a place consigned to geographical oblivion in the minds of most. Read more

Source: The New York Times


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Could there really be only one new black male novelist in Britain?

Until this week, I thought that at least we could be consoled by fiction. That we still had the borderless joys of stories to fend off the dark forces of xenophobia and insularity. Culture is crucial in times of political uncertainty or crisis, and encountering other people’s stories in fiction seems like the surest way to keep our inner, imaginative boundaries open.

Except that we’re not encountering other people’s stories because they’re not being published. At least, not in Britain. The novelist Robyn Travis this week gave an inspirational talk on his struggle to find a publisher for his debut novel, Mama Can’t Raise No Man, about prison life and masculinity, and then to fill the 1,300-seater Hackney Empire in London for its launch this autumn. Go Robyn. Less inspiring was the fact that Travis, according to his publisher Crystal Mahey-Morgan, was most likely the only male black debut novelist to have been published in Britain this year.

Mahey-Morgan says there must be a “flaw in the industry” but no one in publishing should claim to be particularly shocked. A survey earlier this month by the Bookseller magazine found a “shockingly low” number of black, Asian or minority ethnic authors among the UK’s top 500 titles. Before that, a 2015 report, Writing the Future, found a glaring lack of inclusion across every level of a stubbornly white, middle-class publishing world. Read more


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Karachi Literature Festival travels to London

Pakistan’s biggest literary event, the Karachi Literature Festival (KLF) organized by Oxford University Press (OUP), will be launched in London on May 20, 2017 at the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, as part of their Alchemy festival.

Ameena Saiyid, Managing Director, Oxford University Press,  Nadir Cheema, Tariq Suleman, and Nigham Shahid of Bloomsbury Pakistan (a research collective based in London), and Rukhsana Ahmed, members of the KLF London executive committee.

KLF London will present sessions on Pakistan’s rich history, literature, and culture, and promises to be a vibrant affair. The event, which replaces the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) at Southbank, will be a great opportunity for London’s significant population of South Asian origin to gain an insight into the region’s complex history and culture as expressed through its literature and arts. Read more


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London: A bookstore is giving away free books for an entire lifetime

Every book lover who likes to take to the couch with a cup of coffee and that one favourite book will understand the delight of receiving books delivered to their doorstep throughout their life, for free.

Now a bookstore in London has an offer that no bibliophile can refuse, as it is bringing to reality something that has been every book lover’s greatest fantasy ever. The store named Heywood Hill will be supplying free books to a select few anywhere in the world, till they die. Read more


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Two authors pull out of JLF London

Two writers, scientist and broadcaster Aarathi Prasad and K. Satchidanandan, a Malayalam and English poet, have pulled out of the  the Jaipur Literature Festival at Southbank, London, in view of its sponsorship by Vedanta Resources – dubbed ‘the world’s most hated company’.

According to the website FoilVedanta, this was the result of an open letter signed by over 100 writers, academics, activists and people directly affected by Vedanta’s operations, including poets Nabina Das, Hemant Devate, Rafiq Kathwari and Surya Vahni Priya Capildeo and writers Tariq Mehmood, Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar, Courttia Newland and Gladson Dungdung.

Responding to the ongoing controversy over sponsors, Sanjoy Roy, the managing director of Teamwork Arts, which produces the festival, issued this statement to the media on behalf of the festival organisers Namita Gokhale and William Dalrymple: ‘While we appreciate the concerns of those who have posted the open letter, we remain an open platform that allows for free thought and expression. Our strength continues to be our programming, the speakers and the quality of free and frank discussions that JLF brings to audiences. Our sponsors do not influence these choices nor have a say in our content.’

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London’s Australian and NZ Festival of Literature and Arts in trouble

First the Ashes, now the arts: it has not been a good couple of weeks for Australians in Britain. The Australian and New Zealand Festival of Literature and Arts in London, just two years young, has run into troubled waters: The Australian

The board has announced that despite this year’s festival being popular with the talent and the ticket buyers, there were not enough of the latter. Chairman Ken Smith said the week-long event at King’s College, London “did not reach our targets with corporate sponsorship, audience numbers or ticket sales’’ and as a result was “not sustainable in its current form’’. He said a new deal had been struck with creditors. “The failure to achieve sustainable audience levels throughout the 2015 festival and to secure sufficient corporate sponsorship left us with a financial position which is of great concern to the festival’s trustees and board.’’ You could hardly accuse him of mincing his words, so it should come as no surprise that, as in the cricket, the captain is standing down. Smith said festival director Jon Slack, who hails from Adelaide, had resigned to “move on to new projects’’.

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Kitaab Interview with Zen Cho: I write stories as a way of asking questions

by Felicia Low-Jimenez, Interviews Editor, Kitaab

Zen ChoThe first time I read a story written by Zen Cho was in LONTAR #1: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction. The piece was titled Love in the Time of Utopia and was set in a possible future-Kuala Lumpur. I was immediately intrigued and wanted more. The second time I came across Cho’s name was when I read about a new collection of short stories, Spirits Abroad, which was going to be published by Fixi Novo, an award-winning Malaysian publisher well-known for putting out edgy, controversial titles by local authors. I was intensely curious to find out more because science fiction and fantasy writers hailing from Southeast Asia are relatively rare compared to those from the west—at least those writing and publishing in English. The third time I heard Cho’s name was when I learned that she had been picked up by major publishing houses (Ace Books in the U.S. and Pan Macmillan in the UK) for a new fantasy trilogy set in Victorian London. The more of her stories I read, the more I realized that Cho is an immensely imaginative writer who is able to infuse a vulnerable humanity into the mythological creatures that she writes about, and at the same time, as many great speculative fiction writers do, comment on the society in which she lives in—regardless of where she might be.

You primarily write speculative fiction. Is there a reason why you gravitate towards these particular genres?

I enjoy science fiction and fantasy on a few different levels–I like the element of strangeness; I get a kick out of dragons and spaceships; and I like playing with the tropes. They’re hooks you can hang a story on, and then you wander off and explore a bunch of other things at the same time. I don’t really like stories that are only about one thing, which is what contemporary non-genre fiction often feel like to me. Continue reading