That’s it from the Lahore Literary Festival. Another day full of packed halls, stimulating discussions and literature lovers mingling with their favourite authors. Ayesha Jalal spoke about Manto’s relevance in today’s society, while Mohsin Hamid discussed his new book, Ahmed Rashid and William Dalrymple talked about Afghanistan and Pakistan post withdrawal of the US forces and Tehmina Durrani discussed her journey as a writer and the response she received after ‘My Feudal Lord’.
Lahore’s first literary festival wraps up with a performance by Laal, thank you for keeping up with our coverage!
Culture in Conflict
“People’s emotions are integral in their motives when it comes to war.” William Dalrymple
“History is boring for the youth, but if the narrative includes expression of the people and a storytelling style, it can be made interesting.” William Dalrymple
The tomb in Mughal architecture
In the session on architecture of aesthetics and urbanism, the discussion veered from Mughal architecture to contemporary architecture in Pakistan. The panelists discussed that historically Hindus considered that building of tombs was not right as did Muslim clerics who opposed their Mughal emperors’ wishes of raising large domed structured over the dead. However, contrary to those beliefs, some believed that eight corners symbolize closeness to God and four to eight corners symbolize the stages of heaven.Differing shapes of tombs had different meanings and the buildings are the evidence. Shah Jehan called them mute tongues that convey evidence. The panelists agreed that Mughal opulence in architecture is evidence of their desire to show themselves as the new Brahmins.
Akbar’s tomb is open to the blessings of the clouds and it is completely different to Humayun’s and architects were the few men Mughals considered had superior knowledge. –Text by Faraz Khan
Beyond veil is a journey into the various phases and aspects of the life of Tehmina Durrani, the writer of the most controversial book “My Feudal Lord”. The crowd at the Lahore Literary festival was so excited to meet the writer twelve years after her last published book that there were long cues outside the doors of the Alhamra Hall.
Conversing with Shahid Zahid, Tehmina expressed that “I couldn’t have
written My Feudal Lord but it was because of the injustice,my reality
was different to what I was supposed to be.” She explained that it was
painful to bear the consequences of the book when even her own parents disowned her for thirty years. Talking about the changing times said that “I find new generation very open to my book today which is a sign of acceptability”.
She discussed the idea behind her new book “Happy Thing in Sorrow Times” being launched next month with her own illustrations. The book focuses on the effects of the recent times on the mind of a young child. She also revealed another form of expression will be made public soon through an exhibition of her paintings titled “Love Affair”.
While discussing her book Blasphemy she said: “To me blasphemy is to
distort the words of Holy Quran and the words of he Prophet (P.B.U.H)”.
She added blasphemy is a true story based on the life of a
woman who is suffering at the hands of the society and she lacks to ability to fight for her right. Though this one was in contradiction to “My Feudal lord” she said to become something everyone has to go through a process. Discussing another book on the life of Edhi “A Mirror to the Blind” she praised the struggle of Mr. Edhi and his wife who started off with selling pencils on roads but ended up owning a service across the country. Tehmina emphasized that I haven’t seen many men who are proud of their wives like Mr. Edhi. -Text by Maryiam Pervaiz
“I find the new generation very open to ‘My Feudal Lord’. I can see change in the form of acceptance comapred to the past when even my parents disowned me for 30 years.Tehmina Durrani
Literary Bytes: Lit fests in South Asia
William Dalrymple compares the Karachi, Lahore and Jaipur literature festivals.
The story of Begum Hazrat Mahal
Writing ‘Daughter of the East’
Writer Linda Bird Frackle spent 10 years with Benazir Bhutto and the book she wrote was about the kind of relationship she shared with the former prime minister of Pakistan. She has also written about the male dominated society as seen through Benazir’s eyes and the relationship she had with her brothers and why that relationship was affected. She also described Bhutto’s spiritual side and the factors which influenced her personality.
Frackle was nostalgic while sharing her experiences and said Benazir had a very powerful personality and was very sensitive towards women’s issues. -Text by Maryiam Pervaiz
How to get filthy rich in rising Asia
“If you have no money in Pakistan, you will die.” Mohsin Hamid
“There are yellow balloons outside, I wish there were yellow kites instead.” Mohsin Hamid
“As a writer I’m nervous about reading what other people write about me.”Mohsin Hamid
Quite fittingly, the speaker on the session about Manto was his
grand-niece Ayesha Jalal, with Ali Sethi who was the moderator. Jalal
said Manto had never written about things he had not experienced adding
that with Manto’s writing, the narrative was more than just contemporary
– it was about human nature.
The discussion went on to Manto’s sketches and the panelists discussed how his art captured the cosmopolitanism of Bombay, how real it was prior to the bloodbath and how those friendships survived those times especially with his friend Shaym.
Jalal said that Manto would have been a great and honoured writer had partition not happened. She added that the fact he was the best witness to partition had to be acknowledged and that it gave him an opportunity to excel in his skills as a writer. In an answer to a question from the audience, Jalal said the one word she would use to describe Manto was ‘genius’, adding that he had been afraid Saadat Hasan would die but as he had predicted, Manto had lived on. –Text by Faraz Khan
“I really think Manto has not been translated adequately yet.” Ayesha Jalal
Women’s Voices by Muneeza Shamsi with Faiza S.Khan was an interesting debate on the difference between the writing styles of men and women when it comes to writing on the issues of women. The speakers believed that gender bias is quite evident in the writing of our local fiction writers as most of them are men. The journey of Pakistani fiction writers was discussed in detail and Shamsi agreed to the fact that Urdu fiction writing is far more stronger in Pakistan as compared to English writing. She stated that writers like Fehmida Riaz and Rashed Jehan bowled out the English fiction writers completely in the past but today writers like Moni Mohsin, Kamila Shamsi have made a mark in this industry. Muneeza complained that English fiction writers were restricted to follow a subtle modern style of writing. The style of local fiction writers was compared to international writers like Charlotte Bronte and Jane Eyre. Analysts discussed the issues highlighted by the local fiction writers which are mostly domestic in nature, about romance and depiction of strong women whereas there is a contradiction of women being represented in dramas these days when compared to their roles in the books written by modern writers. –Text by Maryiam Pervaiz
Narrative forms in Urdu fiction and poetry
Out of it: Conversation with Salma Dabbagh
Commonwealth, nationalism and globalisation
“Given my social background, I would not have been a writer had I stayed in Pakistan.” Nadeem Aslam
“Indian poets writing in English get more criticism than Indian novelists writing in English.” Jeet Thayil
Future of Urdu literature in Punjab
Greetings from day two of the Lahore Literary Festival. The sun is out and it is a gorgeous Sunday morning with people trickling in for another day of discussions on literature, mingling with authors and more. Keep up with our coverage as we bring you the highlights from the day including pictures, videos, quotes and more.