Singaporean chef, food consultant and entrepreneur Aziza Ali who is widely credited for introducing fine Malay dining to the Singaporean public, was practically born in a kitchen.

“I learned about food since I was 4 years old,” she said. “My mother basically told me that if I want to be a lady, I need to learn how to cook, how to clean, how to do flower arrangements — and so I learned everything from scratch.”

Aziza’s mother actually didn’t learn how to cook herself until she got married at the age of 15, yet she believed that a woman should know her way around in the kitchen at some point in their lives — sooner rather than later.

Kitaab launched its first ever print title, Urdu Poetry–An Introduction at the Singapore Writers Festival on 8 November. 

Urdubooklaunch

Originally penned by Hyderabad-based Anees Ayesha, the book was translated into English by Kitaab’s editor, Zafar Anjum. Ayesha, 75, who could not attend the event, has taught Urdu language and literature in Hyderabad for over 50 years and is an avid promoter of the learning of Urdu among the new generations. She works closely with the Mehfil-e-Khawateen (A women writer’s collective) and Dabistan-e-Jaleeli (Set up to celebrate the works of Ali Ahmed Jaleeli), two organisations that are deeply involved in promoting the Urdu language and appreciation of its contribution to literature and culture in the sub continent.

In the SWF Publishing Symposium yesterday, Ravi Mirchandani of Atlantic Books, Jayapriya Vasudevan of Jacaranda Literary Agency and Anna Davis of Curtis Brown Literary and Talent Agency discussed new and different ways to get published

Before the arrival of digital publishing and distribution platforms (such as Amazon.com), agents and publishers were the gatekeepers, and authors were at the mercy of these agencies. Not any more. That is true to some extent and we all have heard about this trend but what is the whole truth? Are agents and traditional publishers still relevant? One of the Symposium tracks discussed this topic at the National Museum of Singapore.

Anna Davis said that agencies are still important and relevant to shape the career of a writer. She sees, at least in the UK where she works, more people reading books off their Kindles on the London tube but physical books are still relevant and so are traditional publishers. Physical books are doing well in the UK market, she said. Novels are still doing very well in the UK and it is possible to make good money by becoming a novelist, Anna added. An average novelist makes about 10,000 pounds a year in the UK but the bestselling authors make a lot more.