LLF-2015: foreign writers with Pakistan connection

Published February 17, 2015
– Hamza Cheema/File
– Hamza Cheema/File

LAHORE: Like every year, the Lahore Literature Festival (Feb 20 to 22), will again be incorporating many literary figures who belong to foreign countries, but with some connection and relevance to Pakistan.

Zulfikar Ghose, poet, columnist, essayist and novelist, for instance, is a Sialkot born British-Pakistani who has taught in London in the 1960s. He has been a cricket correspondent for The Observer and wrote for the books section in many other publications, including The New York Times.

Ghose moved to the United States in 1969 to teach at the University of Texas at Austin, and has since been with the university’s English department, where he is currently a professor emeritus.

At the LLF-2015, Ghose will be talking about his novel The Murder of Aziz. Revisiting Ghose’s seminal work allows us the opportunity to explore the rise of the English literary tradition in Pakistan with the help of one of its most influential trailblazers. Ghose will also be discussing his 1972 novel, The Incredible Brazillian, which uses magical realism.

There is also Shadab Zeest Hashmi, a Pakistani-American poet whose works have been translated into both Spanish and Urdu. Hashmi’s latest book of poetry, Kohl and Chalk, an introspective work that blends Western and Eastern themes and forms, won the San Diego Book Award 2014. She has also used the form of Ghazal and Qasida in her English poetry.

Another foreigner is Dr Mohammad Asaduddin from New Delhithe, the head of the English department at the Jamia Millia Islamia. He has co-edited ‘Filming Fiction:

Tagore, Premchand and Ray’, published in 2012, which examines the relationship between Indian literature and film. Dr Asaduddin is considered an expert on Indian fiction.

An unusual personality who will be joining this time is Jean Lambert, who is also a Green Party member and has been a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for London – one of only eight for the city – since 1999. She also chairs the European Parliament’s delegation for the countries of South Asia, including Pakistan. She has been with the Green Party since 1977, which advocates environmental sustainability, social justice and nonviolence.

Lambert has authored the European Parliament’s resolution on Pakistan following the Peshawar attack. On Jan 29, in a speech in the parliament on the attack, she called it an “attack on the country’s future” and brought the parliament’s attention to the Pakistani government’s controversial steps following the tragedy, including the lifting of the moratorium on the death penalty and the introduction of military courts, criticising the moves. She will be discussing this resolution and the challenges faced by post-Peshawar Pakistan at the festival.

Award-winning Australian journalist John Zubrzycki, who is also senior editor with The Australian, has had a lifelong fascination with South Asia. He is going to be discussing his book, The Last Nizam, which focuses on the life of Mukarram Jah, the last Nizam of Hyderabad, who lived through the decline of a dynasty that once possessed the greatest fortune in India.

Jah’s legacy in India was made bitter by court battles for his inheritance, but Zubrzycki’s book brings to light a different phase of the Nizam’s life, one spent in the Australian Outback. Zubrzycki tells the story of Jah’s life spent in a half-a-million acre farm in the Australian outback and the scandals that surrounded his life there.

Meanwhile, Lahore-born short story writer and novelist Maniza Naqvi will also be present at the festival. Her first novel was Mass Transit, published in 1998. It discusses the toll taken by migration on three Pakistani-American families.

Her other novels, On Air, whose plot unfolds over six hours on a late night radio show, Stay With Me, about a torture victim who drifts in and out of consciousness and A Matter of Detail, a satire about a family struggling with identity, show that she is willing to experiment with form and explore new themes.

Naqvi has also written a book of short stories, Sarajevo Saturdays and edited last year’s I’ll Find My Way, an anthology of short stories by Pakistani writers. She is also a columnist for 3 Quarks Daily.

Cricket will be in the spotlight this year as two sports journalists, Peter Oborne and Osman Samiuddin, will be speaking. Oborne’s Wounded Tiger and Samiuddin’s.

The Unquiet Ones have been acclaimed as groundbreaking works that explore the sport’s relationship to Pakistan’s sociopolitical climate through the decades. The two books offer compelling and vivid accounts of the country’s most popular sport’s ride of setbacks and comebacks.

Published in Dawn, February 17th, 2015

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