Former investment banker turned psychiatrist, Lucy Beresford will be at Asia House on 6th October (evening) discussing her book, Invisible Threads a fictional book drawing on the author’s experiences in India.
The truth can be elastic as it sometimes depends upon the perspective and knowledge of the person making the claim, however, Mr A S Dulat, formerly the head of India’s intelligence agency (Research & Analysis Wing) can perhaps claim to know the truth more than most of us. Kashmir: The Vajpayee Years by A S Dulat was launched in London last week at a lovely event at the Taj St James’ Court with guest of honour, Dr Farooq Abdullah (former Chief Minister of Kashmir, the Indian side).
It was a packed event with people standing at the back of the room. I had encouraged Mr Dulat to launch his book in London and as adorably humble as ever, he said ‘who would want to come to that?’ Loads of people was my reply! A couple of months later and there we were celebrating.
The last event I attended on the final day of the Edinburgh International Book Festival was an event centred around feminism: In Praise of Pioneering Women by Caroline Criado-Perez. Caroline was catapulted into media attention after she started the campaign to put an inspirational woman on the £5 note. Her campaign led to her being viciously trolled on social media and subsequently the Crown
Poor Meera Syal, the expectations were so high from the audience around me and indeed myself that she would be incredibly sharp and witty and have us in stitches that once the discussion started and it became clear that it was all about surrogacy and motherhood (the main subjects her fictional book centres around) we were a little disappointed.
Of course Meera should want to promote her new book, The House of Hidden Mothers, at the Edinburgh International Book Festival there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m just not
For a few seconds, time stopped and the audience dropped a collective jaw as Yasmin Alibhai-Brown asked if we knew that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne’s brother was a Muslim convert, Mohammed Osborne. No we didn’t! But…but… how did that happen?
Professor of Philosophy, A C Grayling gave a wonderful presentation of essays yesterday afternoon at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. His new book is a collection of essays of a variety of subjects quite like in the ‘pre-novel’ era when essays were highly regarded.
Without the snazzy graphics and collagen-filled lips of the real C.S.I. the totally fabulous C.S.Aye team consisted of internationally acclaimed crime writer, Val McDermid and forensics expert extraordinaire, Niamh Nic Daeid who often appears on BBC Radio 4 to explain forensic science to the general public with ease and she was interviewed for the wonderful Life Scientific programme.
The hour in their company at the Edinburgh International Book Festival event flew by and it was full of fascinating information about a world that most of us are rarely touched by but nonetheless find
In 1914, 84% of the world was under colonial rule from a European nation. Quite an achievement considering that Europe makes approximately 8% of the world’s land mass. These were some of the attention-grabbing opening lines of economic historian, Philip T Hoffman’s event at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.
I arrived at the Edinburgh International Book Festival today for my first book event of this year’s packed programme, brolly in hand and wearing two layers of cashmere. Yes, it is August, welcome to Summer in Scotland.
Ziauddin Sardar’s new book, Mecca The Sacred City was the topic of discussion and the charismatic author was full of hilarious anecdotes and opinions of Saudi Arabia that mirror my own. Of course, unlike him, I’m not a respected scholar nor have I spent time living there.
It is in the direction of Mecca and the Ka’aba that all Muslims turn to when (or if) they pray. Mecca is the birth place of the Prophet and pilgrimage to the Ka’aba is one of the five pillars of Islam, a duty for all Muslims. So why do the guardians of the holiest sites in the Islamic behave like ‘cultural terrorrists’? Ziauddin Sardar is no fan of
As the Asia House Lit Festival draws to an end, A personal highlight for me was to hear Heidi Kingstone in conversation with Jemima Steinfeld. Both women have written accounts of working abroad and in this conversation we were treated to Heidi’s memories of being a war correspondent in Afghanistan and a reading from her new book, Dispatches from the Kabul Cafe.
Tigers are synonymous with India to the point of boredom. It is my irrational rejection of tiger references in literature that led me to ignore The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga for years. Man Booker Prize winner? Meh, so what, I thought, it’s probably full of quaint stereotypes from cover to cover.
I’d forgotten about it entirely until a friend recently recommended it to me and then I happened to find a copy on my bookshelf (not by magic my sister must have bought it). Well, quite simply: I loved it. I loved the style of writing, the perspective it is written from, the observational humour is wicked and I loved reading about Delhi (currently my third home city).
Kamila Shamsie at Asia House
Last week Bunty and I spent the evening at Asia House for the continuing literature festival sponsored by the Bagri Foundation. The festival is on until 21st May and there are still many wonderful events to attend! www.asiahouse.org and follow on twitter @asiahouseuk @festofasianlit
Multi award winning writer, Kamila Shamsie was the star of the evening and new writer, Omar Shahid Hamid was introduced and interviewed in Extra Words, a new segment created by Asia House to focus on new talent at the festival.
Author Brigid Keenan is a charming, witty writer who knows exactly how to recall a lifetime of wonderful and disastrous events as the trailing wife of a diplomat. I read her book Diplomatic Baggage after meeting Brigid at a dinner party one evening in London. We created instant warmth as we exchanged stories of India.
Packing Up – Further Adventures of A Trailing Spouse is Brigid Keenan’s latest book about her life in Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Palestine.
Hanif Kureishi with Razia Iqbal Photography by Nick Cunard http://www.nickcunard.co.uk
A superstar author never shy of sharing his opinion, Hanif Kureishi opened the Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival with an evening full of laughter and delight. The writer was interviewed by BBC special correspondent Razia Iqbal who effortlessly kept her own presence on stage and steered the discussion that gave interesting insights into the way Hanif writes, his life and opinions.
I just finished reading Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook. It is a wonderfully bold book charting, amongst other important events and cultural/social changes, the freedom of women.
Free to have careers, sex and their own opinions it is set during the evolutionary stage of female emancipation that we, women of today, can relate to even though the book is set from the 1930s onwards. This was a groundbreaking novel when it was published in 1962 and I would say it still strikes a chord today.
The Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival is back in May and what a programme they have in store! The Chatterjis Blog will cover the event as official bloggers for the festival which includes writers from over 17 different Asian countries. In addition to a regular festival format a new series, Extra Words will introduce debut authors from Pakistan, Nepal and Thailand.
The festival officially opens on 6th May with high profile writer, Hanif Kureishi who will talk about his new book The Last Word. There are a few pre-festival events in April that sound fabulous too. On 10th April there is an event called Separations discussing what happens when a country suffers from political divisions. Featuring Korean writers Kyung-sook Shin (2011 Man Asia Prize winner) and Krys Lee and Pakistani writer Qaisra Shahraz whose work focuses on women and partition it should be a lively evening. Why Do Indians Vote? Democracy in India is another pre-festival
I started reading Nancy Mitford and took an interest in her after hearing about her on the BBC Radio 4 Great Lives programme. She sounded so wonderfully witty, sharp and unsentimental that I decided to buy a few of her books.
Like many bloggers, I am a closet novelist. Ah yes, that theory that we all have within us one great story. I can write! I am interesting! Funny, dramatic, sensational. First I will win the Costa book awards and then Booker to prove I’m not winning just because I am of the gentler sex (ha!)
I just finished reading The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak. The author is one of the high profile names that participated in this year’s Asia House Festival of Asian Literature.
This is the first book I have read by Elif Shafak and I was drawn to it as I read the back cover and saw three words: Sufi, Rumi and Shams…sold!! This book is like Kryptonite for my sister full of spirituality and love.
Freedom is the theme of this year’s Asia House Festival of Asian Literature, the seventh annual event. From 7-22nd May, some of Asia’s greatest literary exports will join some of the best British Asian writers and thinkers to discuss freedom in all its forms: freedom of expression, education, travel, justice, freedom to read the truth and to live in our chosen ways.
Taking place in a few venues in Central London the programme and events for adults and children is varied and wonderfully diverse. Want to know how to get your work published in Asia or the UK? Want to see a curry demonstration from Michelin-starred chef, Atul Kochhar?
The Asia House Festival of Asian Literature got off to a roaring start by hosting an audience with the wonderfully charming Michael Palin at the Commonwealth Club, London.
Palin was launching a new book, The Truth, excitingly his first foray into fiction. The audience, however, were keen to grill him about his travels. He handled everyone’s question with the same wit and eloquence that we are used to seeing on screen, even though surely he must have been asked some of these questions thousands of times. Palin had us all captivated
At work we are all reading 50 Shades of Feminism – less than £10 and in hardback (unless you prefer Kindle) so get your copy asap, you will love it. I would recommend this book particularly if like me, you have a short commute to work and love to read little bite-size nuggets of delightfully well-written essays.
Mansfield Park is one of Jane Austen’s least likeable books amongst die hard Austen fans. I only decided to re-read Mansfield Park as it was the first Jane Austen book I saw on my bookshelf. I have a guilty confession that I am suffering from period drama withdrawal symptoms ever since series three of Downton Abbey ended (over all it was pretty awful I hope there won’t be a series four).
This wonderful book on political history by acclaimed author, Alex Von Tunzelmann (interviewed last year for the Chatterjis Hall of Fame) is set at a cracking pace like a thriller except, unfortunately for a certain part of the world, these events actually took place.
Well I just wanted to know what all the fuss was about. Fastest selling paperback of all time selling 40 million copies worldwide, UK’s top 5 best selling book of all time and everyone’s talking about it. There will even be an adaptation to film.
Have you read E L James’ Fifty Shades of Grey? What did you think?
Dahls Chickens is, of course, the way that the lovely Big Friendly Giant refers to Charles Dickens which still makes me smile.
Today is the 200th anniversary of the birthday of Charles Dickens and what better way to celebrate than to READ him! If you are a beginner, may I please recommend Great Expectations, which has all the language, character and mood of a Dickens book to set you up to becoming a fan.
It’s been hard to get away from all the Salman Rushdie news for more than a week now. The infamous author was due to appear at the Jaipur Literature Festival and decided not to attend at the last minute due to threats on his life which were subsequently discredited.
Agatha Christie is always in vogue (even now, her books are being serialised in the UK with fortnightly magazines detailing the plots, characters and Christie’s life). But have you actually read her work?
What is about South Asians and science fiction? They just don’t get it. I cannot believe that there is anyone alive that doesn’t love Star Wars (Empire Strikes Back is my favourite). How can you possibly not be excited by Captain Picard’s adventures through space on the Enterprise? And don’t get me started about Dune, which I not only loved reading as a child but also loved watching David Lynch’s film adaptation with a young Kyle MacLachlan. Now, we obviously get into more respectable territories
A lovely conversation between Kiran and Anita Desai was published in last week’s Guardian and I wanted to share it with you.
I have the Desai collection and have enjoyed the books, so am looking forward to Anita Desai’s new book “The Artist of Disappearance”.
This book opens with a scene where our hero is “raising” 10 dollar bills by turning them into 100 dollar bills. “Poppycock!”, I thought aged 16 when I first attempted to read this book (well, the Scottish equivalent of poppycock, anyway).
Having been forced to give the book another chance by my sister I can confirm what a joy it is to have read “A Rage in Harlem” by Chester Himes. The characters, dialogue and scenes are magnificent to read in a New York drawl.