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Kitaab Singapore organizes the first SRMU Kitaab Literary Festival in Lucknow

Lucknow has been the hub of mushaira, Dasstaangoi and kavi sammelan for centuries, but as times change, rituals and traditions also get recreated and rejuvenated according to the prevailing zeitgeist. In a unique collaboration, the first of its kind, writers, poets, translators and scriptwriters from different parts of India and Asia assembled in Lucknow in the first weekend of April to celebrate writing from South Asia and Southeast Asia.

This first edition of the SRMU Kitaab Literary Festival was jointly organized by Kitaab International Pte. Ltd., Singapore and Shri Ramaswaroop Memorial University (SRMU), Lucknow and was held on the 7th and 8th of April, 2018 at the SRMU campus.

Building bridges between Asian writers and readers

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Lighting the lamp: Pro Chancellor Pooja Agarwal (second from right)

Festival Director Zafar Anjum, the festival’s patron A K Singh, Vice Chancellor of SRMU, Chancellor Pankaj Agarwal, Pro Chancellor Pooja Agarwal, and the faculty of SRMU led by Dr. B.M. Dixit, inaugurated the festival. ‘The aim of this festival ties up with the aim of Kitaab—to create bridges and dialogue between Asian writers and global readers and to bring literature to the grassroots,’ said Anjum in his welcome address.

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Kitaab’s director Zafar Anjum delivering his welcome address

Agarwal applauded SRMU’s collaboration with Kitaab. He said that Kitaab is an esteemed organisation that offers a promising worldwide platform to both budding and established authors, editors and publishers. Extending from the areas of literary fiction and translation to filmmaking (together with Filmwallas, founded by Zafar Anjum), Kitaab caters to all genres in English and other South Asian languages.

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The festival featured more than 20 writers in English, Hindi and Urdu from India, Singapore and Malaysia. Well-known and award-winning writers such as Sudeep Sen, Rahman Abbas, Yogesh Praveen, Dr. Surya Prasad Dixit, Isa Kamari, Dr. Rakhshanda Jalil, Dr. Malachi Edwin Vethamani and Novoneel Chakraborty top lined the festival. Theatre and film actor Shishir Sharma, who was present to talk about his journey in the world of acting, presented the film, More Chai Please, Singapore’s first Urdu short film.

The film, shot in Singapore and presented by Filmwallas, tells the story of a couple with the plot spanning Singapore and Lucknow. The film’s writer and producer Sunita Lad Bhamray and its director Zafar Anjum were present during a special screening of the film on the second day of the festival.

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Eminent poet Sudeep Sen with veteran actor Shishir Sharma

The other major highlight of the festival was the launch of Tawassul, a Malay novel by Singaporean novelist Isa Kamari, translated into Urdu by Rubina Siddiqui. It is the first work of Singaporean literature to be translated into Urdu. Award-winning Urdu novelist, Rahman Abbas who has also helped oversee the edits, hailed this avant-garde work of fiction and told the audience that the book’s Hindi edition was in the works.

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Rahman Abbas (left) with Isa Kamari (right) launching Tawassul in Urdu

 

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Book Review: The Lucknow Cookbook by Chand Sur and Sunita Kohli

Reviewed by Shikhandin

Lucknow Cookbook

Title: The Lucknow Cookbook
Authors: Chand Sur and Sunita Kohli
Publisher: Aleph
Pages: Soft Cover, 228

Years ago, before Narcopolis, the DSC Prize winning author Jeet Thayil had shared a moment during a reading at a poetry festival. He had said that he read and collected cook books, not because he cooked, but because he enjoyed reading them. Cook books provided both welcome relief from an excess of poetry, and also stirred up creative juices. His words had immediately resonated with the men and women, many of whom were poets, writers and artists, present among the audience.

Thayil’s words came back to me when I held my reviewer’s copy of The Lucknow Cookbook written by the mother and daughter duo, Chand Sur and Sunita Kohli. Books from Aleph are a pleasure to hold and behold. This book of recipes and family food lore does not disappoint. A comfortably sized book with an elegant outer cover and a rich olive green inner cover, it immediately leaps at you from the shelf. Since no food book is complete without appetite inducing pictures, The Lucknow Cookbook has them too. Bang in the centre, an eight-page long visual feast, spread back to back with photographs of Lucknowi fare laid out in style, rather like an Awadhi dastarkhwan, as Sunita Kohli notes in her forward, ‘a Persian term literally meaning a meticulously laid out ceremonial dining spread…’

The Lucknow Cookbook is one family’s chronicle of what turns out to be more than just about food. It is about an era, a city and a society where culture and refinement absorbed from various influences produced food, the first and foremost expression of good hospitality, that was as intricate and nuanced as the art and architecture, the jewellery and furniture of a people who loved to live well.

Lucknow, according to Kohli, ‘had a high degree of refinement as compared to Delhi. It was known for its “tehzeeb, tameez aur nafaasat (manners, etiquette and sophistication).”…Lucknow was home to some of the most vibrant and artistic expressions of its time.’ Even in comparison with Lahore, a vibrant city in its own right, Lucknow stood out. In her words again – ‘The hospitality in Lahore is extraordinary and its food is legendary. There are some striking similarities to the cuisine of Lucknow. But one difference is that the cuisine of Lahore is more robust, in the tradition of the Punjab. The traditional cuisine in Lucknow is more refined, more aromatic, more aesthetically creative and it is served with a greater nazaakat (elegance).’ For Lucknow is the place where Hindu and Muslim traditions blend and become something exclusive to the city, whose chefs ‘took the best …, absorbed them into their current cuisines and made it into a uniquely Lucknowi experience.’

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India: The Shri Ramswaroop Memorial Prize for the Best Political Novel

The Shri Ramswaroop Memorial University (SRMU), Lucknow has announced a Prize for the Best Political Novel, first of its kind award in literature. This year (2017), the prize will be a cash award of INR 50,000 and an honour conferred by the SRMU.

The announcement for short-listed titles/authors will be made on 17-18 February 2017 in Lucknow. All writers whose novels have been published in India are eligible. It is a fully jury based prize: it involves direct nominations from peers and not entries by publishing houses. The winner will be announced at Lucknow in the second half of 2017.

As we cannot possibly undertake a prize that covers all Anglophone novels in the world or the many excellent political novels published in India’s other languages, this prize is restricted to novels originally written in English and published in India in a given calendar year,” the press note said. The literature prize is the first-ever to be awarded by a University in India.

The rules and procedures of the prize for this year are;

  • Novels originally written in English and published in India in the given calendar year will be eligible. This means 1st January 2016 to 31st January 2016 for the prize to be awarded in 2017.
  • The authors of the novels might or might not be Indian, but the topics of their novels must be adjudged to be of significant political interest to Indian readers by a select and anonymous committee of qualified readers.
  • This will be done by appointing a significant writer or scholar as the jury head for that particular year. The jury head will then invite nine other significant writers, scholars and literary editors to recommend a title each from the year under consideration. The jury head will change every year.

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India: Delhi Is The Most ‘Well-Read’ City Of 2016 And Chetan Bhagat’s Book The Highest-Selling One

The national capital has emerged as the most well-read city in India for the fourth consecutive year with Bengaluru and Mumbai taking the second and third spot, respectively, says a survey conducted by Amazon India.

According to the ‘Annual Reading Trends Report for 2016’ conducted by Amazon.in, Karnal, Vadodara and Patna are first-time entrants in the Top 20 list having bought more books than cities like Coimbatore, Visakhapatnam and Lucknow this year.

Chetan Bhagat’s book ‘One Indian Girl’ emerged as the highest selling book of this year followed by JK Rowling’s ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Parts I and II’.

The third spot is taken by exam preparation book ‘Word Power Made Easy’ written by Norman Lewis, Robin Sharma’s non-fiction ‘Who Will Cry When You Die?’ was at fourth position. Read more

Source: Huffington Post


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Fly and Back: A poem by Varun Rajaram

Fly and Back

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Varun Rajaram has been writing poems since the age of 8. His first book of poems Reflections was published for a closed audience. His poems reflect the culture of places he has lived in – Kolkata, Lucknow and Ahmedabad. Currently, Varun lives in Mumbai where he promotes the use of solar power through his business.


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India: Lucknow University’s new syllabus turns more gender-sensitive

Post-graduate English students in Lucknow will get to read more work authored by women. In a complete overhauling of its syllabi, Lucknow University has introduced literature by women writers and texts that talks of women empowerment. From Mary Wollstonecraft’s critical essay ‘A Vindication of the Rights of Women’ to Rashi Jahan’s fiction ‘Behind the Veil’ and from Mahadevi Verma’s poem ‘Tum Mujh Mein Priya, Phir Parichay Kya’ to Urmila Panwar’s ‘Mother’ (compilation of short stories), the text selected deals with women, their identity and issues.

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India: Literature festival beckons with more than books

If you’ve shunned literary festivals happening across the country so far because you assume they’d comprise jargon-and most participants pretending to follow every word-it’s time to change that perception.

Second edition of the two-day Lucknow Literary Festival beginning February 1 promises to be a treat not just for the serious art and literature connoisseurs, but anyone even remotely interested in culture and the city’s rich heritage. Lucknow society, which has joined hands with Lucknow First to make the event much bigger this year, has taken care to make the literary festival relevant to groups across the age and preference spectrum.

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Umrao Jaan returns to seek revenge

Umrao JaanOriginally written and published in Urdu by Muhammad Hadi Ruswa in 1899, the poignant tale of Umrao mirrored the lives of courtesans (tawaifs) in colonial India (The Times of India).

Academic research on Umrao Jaan (both novel and the character) led Krupa Shandilya, one of the translators of this novella to discover the existence of a sequel to Ruswa’s ‘Umrao Jan Ada‘; believed to be authored by the courtesan herself.

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