Who says Pakistani literature was a relic of the past? If anything, Pakistani authors have a global audience today, and our writers are now the greatest harbingers of Pakistan’s complexity and nuance in a way that the embedded media can scarcely fathom.
The first literary festival took off in our cosmopolitan melting pot, Karachi, in March. The Oxford University Press’ dynamic head Ameena Saiyid, and the British Council, together organised this event. Asif Farrukhi, the premier litterateur of the metropolis was central to the festival. Farrukhi’s comprehensive command of Urdu and English literary currents, and the stature which he has earned with his hard work, ensured that we were all set for a fabulous gala.
Earlier, the festival faced the usual hurdles: the Indians were issued visas rather late in the day and my friend Sadia Dehlvi was denied a visa at the last minute, despite earnest efforts by the organisers. The iron curtain was rigidly in place. But the other regional and international delegates arrived as planned. The last minute finalisation of the schedule meant that due notice could not be given to many participants. However, the OUP team, especially Raheela Baqai, were adept at getting things done. Saiyid herself used Facebook to advertise the event. She’s obviously keeping up with technology and its changing frontiers.
We arrived just in time for the launch ceremony that was held at the British Consulate. It was quite a journey from the Carlton Hotel to old-world Clifton – a mini-bus that dazzled with literary icons of our time: Iftikhar Arif, Intezar Hussain, Masood Ash’ar and Shamsur Rehman Farooqi from the world of Urdu. The front seats were occupied by the petite and resplendent Bapsi Sidhwa, the contemplative Zulfiqar Ghose and the younger British Pakistani writer Sarfaraz Manzoor, whose book ‘Greetings From Bury Park’ has created waves across the English reading […]
Ghazi Salahuddin’s write up for the NEWS makes interesting points about the festival and also mentions me as one lost between the English and Urdu worlds
Far from the unruly crowds we watch on our news channels, playing hide and seek with an equally enraged and rowdy police, a select group of book lovers was able to retreat, during the last weekend, to the wonderland of literature. This, of course, was the Karachi Literature Festival sponsored by the Oxford University Press and the British Council. And all of us who were there were grateful for a memorable experience.
The two-day festival was held at a hotel tucked into a corner in Defence, by the side of the creek. It also bills itself as a resort. In that sense, being there did enforce a sense of distance from the disarray that pervades our daily existence. It was, thus, a lot of fun, and real pleasure was derived from casual encounters that flourished on the sidelines, with so many distinguished Pakistani writers and poets in attendance.
Now, when I underline this manifestly elitist aspect of the festival, I am not being critical of how it was designed. In fact, the location made the festival possible in spite of security concerns and the overall ambience greatly facilitated the discourse on otherwise rather sombre issues. Besides, the balance in the audience did tilt towards the readers of English and they could find easy access to the location. This is what would be expected of an event organised by the OUP and the British Council. […]
Ali Sethi recently attended the Jaipur literary festival and his extraordinary performance is now accessible to those who were not there. I should thank him for sharing this video. Ali’s instructions were also meticulous but I will not post them here except his concluding comment: the whole of the rest of the session is fantastic, […]
I am posting Shivani Mohan's article where I have been quoted with reference to the recent folklore festival held under the aegis of SAARC. Another piece on the folk performances can be accessed here. This fortnight saw the 20th anniversary celebration of the fall of the Berlin Wall. So liberating and decisive, when a vast multitude of people chose to see sense and forget trifles that generally incense mankind, when the similarities between two peoples became more important than the differences; when cultural affinity conquered meaningless rivalry
Source: The SAARC Festival of Literature is slated to begin from 12th March in the city of Taj Mahal, Agra and will come to close in Delhi on the 17th March 2009. Foundation of SAARC Writers and Literature is organizing the Festival at a time when expectations from creative fraternity and right-minded peace activists have soared high in the aftermath of unprecedented terrorists attack on Mumbai, and sensitivities of the creative fraternity across the SAARC region, particularly in India and Pakistan, are shaken and bruised.
FOSWAL has urged people to pledge with the creative fraternity to stand together for peace and tranquility in times of terror and to celebrate the continuity of culture and creative writings of the SAARC region. The Festival will cover a wide range of themes from role of wordsmiths in times of terror to its impact on popular culture, prevailing conditions of chaos and confusion, exploring history, resolving ethnic angst, poetry recitations, and readings of short stories. […]