Posts tagged ‘literature’

March 6, 2016

Marvelous Manto: The Great Writer from Pakistan

mantoAn indie flick from Pakistan has been wowing critics and I found myself part of a 300 strong crowd at its premier in London last week.

Manto is the kind of literary figure that my mum becomes glaze eyed about and she’ll suddenly recite passages and look at me with an air of pride at how, clearly, all artists in Urdu are superior to any other.

Manto was a controversial writer whose career spans the 40s and

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August 22, 2015

Forensic Science with the C.S.Aye Team

Val McDermid

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

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May 18, 2015

Dispatches from the Kabul Cafe with Heidi Kingstone

Dispatches-Kabul

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.

Heidi began by explaining the phenomenon, Kabubble, which arose

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May 9, 2015

An Evening With Xue Xinran

xue xinran

The opening night of the Asia House Literature Festival started off tonight with a wonderful conversation with the acclaimed author and journalist, Xue Xinran, who has a new book, Buy Me the Sky, out now.

Xinran has an incredible talent of explaining Chinese culture through her many books and she spoke very frankly in conversation with

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June 30, 2014

The White Tiger

The White TigerTigers 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). 

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May 19, 2014

Hall of Fame: Kamila Shamsie

Kamila Shamsie at Asia House Literature Festival 2014

Kamila Shamsie at Asia House

Internationally successful writer, Kamila Shamsie sat with the Chatterjis for a wee interview at the end of her event at the Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival 2014. Quality literature could be Pakistan’s second biggest export after Mangoes and Kamila Shamsie’s work sits on the most coveted international shortlists. Calm, confident and endearing, Kamila gave a wonderful interview and we hope you enjoy it:

You live and work between three locations in three different countries, what aspects do you enjoy and dislike?

Now I only live in London, I used to live in Karachi, London and upstate New York. But now I live in London the most. What I love most about Karachi is that it’s home, it’s where I grew up it’s familiar. My family is there, the sea is there so it’s everything I’ve grown up with. So Karachi is in the way you love your childhood. And London I love in the way I embrace…the future I suppose.

Do you describe yourself a feminist/ what does the term mean to you?

I absolutely describe myself as a feminist. What it means to me is…being against patriarchy, there are more complicated ways of that. We live in a society that is structured in an unjust way and that’s wrong and should be changed.
What do you think identity means today for yourself as a dual citizen and for British born Asians?

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May 13, 2014

Pakistan: Literary Treasure Trove

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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.

Kamila was asked all about her new book, A God in Every Stone (I’m reading my signed copy, review to follow asap!). Breathtaking in scope from

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November 29, 2013

It Happens All The Time in Heaven

hafiz garden

It happens all the time in heaven,
And some day
It will begin to happen
Again on earth –
That men and women who are married,
And men and men who are
Lovers,

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November 28, 2013

Home by Toni Morrison

home toni morrison

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!)

Then, I read something by Toni Morrison and my god, will she metaphorically dedicatedly superliciously crap all over that fantasy.

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November 13, 2013

Platform by Michel Houellebecq

platform
Well it’s been a long time since I read such crap. I’m not an avid reader of the french novel or peruser of their “great” cinema but apart from a few notable classics (in French but not necessarily from France, Camus coming to mind) I’ve always had a narrow-minded notion that The French are inherently sexist and it won’t wash well with me.
I know beauty is subjective but when Depardieu is cast alongside Audrey Tatou a little piece of me sighs in that awful way I used to when

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September 23, 2013

Crime and Punishment

crime and punishment

I have a beautiful hard back copy of the literary classic, Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.  Even my copy with its font size 7 type it is the size of a brick.  I have been looking at it for years thinking about reading, feeling guilty that I hadn’t, so a few days ago I finally picked it up and read the foreword.   The following day one of my best friends rang me to say she had two tickets to watch Crime and Punishment at the Citz in Glasgow and I jumped with glee to be given a sneak preview into the book later that evening.

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May 8, 2013

Asia House Festival of Asian Literature

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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?

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December 11, 2012

The Mughals at the British Library

mughal-carousel-allahvardi

Have you heard that the British Library is showcasing its Mughal dynasty masterpieces?  The exhibition is only £10 and is open until April 2013 so there is plenty time to catch one of the most exclusive exhibitions of Mughal art for a very long time.

The British amassed an incredible vast treasure trove of artefacts during the Empire and these go on drip feed display.  A tiny part of me wonders whether it ought to be returned

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July 3, 2012

The Great Gatsby

Classic literature has always been a thorn in my side. I love modern literature and have often shied away from the wordy and lengthy writing as well as the endurance that comes with classics.

So recently, I took it upon myself to start wading through my list of classic books that I want to read before the big 40, starting with “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1925.

Normally, I can read a book within days, but this took me 6 weeks to read…….

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February 7, 2012

Happy 200th Birthday Dahls Chickens

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.

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October 13, 2011

A Rage in Harlem

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. 

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October 7, 2011

South Asian Literature Festival

Apologies for the London-centric post but the South Asian Lit Fest begins tomorrow with a great line up of authors, discussions and events from tomorrow 8 October all the way to 24 October.

I was going to go to Scotland on Monday but will now stick around

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September 29, 2011

Banned Books

A book festival with a different angle, British librarians got together to select  must-read books that were once banned.

It’s great reading about the reasons particular titles were banned and the reasons various nations, states or authorities gave for banning books.  Some of the messages they read between the lines seem ridiculous

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September 2, 2011

Hall of Fame: Alex Von Tunzelmann

Indian Summer is a wonderful book that I reviewed back in March.  Talented young historian, Alex Von Tunzelmann is the author and in addition to selling movie rights to the book Alex was an insightful and informed guest on BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions.  She launched a new book, Red Heat, which is a political and historical thriller about the Cold War set in the Caribbean.  You can hear Alex at the Women in History debate at the Hampstead Literary Festival, 13 September.

Alex,  I loved your book Indian Summer and have recommended it to all my friends, in particular I admired the way that you can mix historical facts with people’s personalities and give a truly insightful account as to what went on during the years surrounding Partition.  Does writing come naturally to you?

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April 15, 2011

The Help

I would recommend reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett which is about the lives of three women during 1960s America, two of them being black maids.

It is written with what appears to be real insight,

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