ITALIAN Consul General Dr Gianluca Rubagotti speaks at the press conference.—White Star
ITALIAN Consul General Dr Gianluca Rubagotti speaks at the press conference.—White Star

KARACHI: The winner of the Italy Reads Pakistan Award launched last year by the consulate of Italy in Karachi would be announced on Saturday, the second day of the Karachi Literature Festival (KLF). Part of the prize for the fiction writer is to translate the winning piece (either in English or Urdu) into Italian.

This was stated by Dr Gianluca Rubagotti, the Italian consul general, at a press conference held at a local hotel on Thursday.

“It’s an honour to be part of the KLF. We feel proud to say that the award partnered with Metropoli d’Asia, an Italian publishing house, is different (from the usual kinds of prizes) in the sense that it aims to bring people together,” Dr Rubagotti said.

According to him, there is a high degree of ignorance in Europe about Pakistan and the Italian translation of a chosen Pakistani literary piece under the award would provide an opportunity to Italian readers to enjoy the work that would otherwise be difficult for them to access, as well as help create understanding between people of the two countries.

“Italy doesn’t have a market for English works. Hence, this initiative has been taken,” he said, adding that Metropoli d’Asia aimed to discover, translate and offer contemporary innovate writings by Asian authors to the wider public.

A local jury of three judges shortlisted the literary works which were then assessed by an Italian jury selected by Metropoli d’Asia, he explained.

Oxford University Press managing director and KLF founder Ameena Saiyid said that it was a great pleasure to be part of this wonderful initiative, which, she believed, would lead to a greater understanding among people.

“The best way to know a country is to read about its people. The award is a great step in diplomacy, understanding and peace,” she said, hoping that more Italian literati would participate in the KLF next year.

Briefing about the publishing house, Andrea Berrini, an Italian author and owner of the Metropli d’Asia, who would also participate in a panel discussion at the KLF, said that a lot of developments were taking place in Asian countries and a ‘new Asia’ was emerging.

“With new cultural scenes, the new schools and languages of contemporary Asia, the need to look more closely at the cities — which have undergone tremendous changes in the past two decades and will change even more — exists,” he said.

The publishing house, he pointed out, intended to concentrate on authors who experienced their realities first-hand and on novels with urban settings.

According to him, 19 submissions were received for the award that had strict criteria; it had an age limit of less than 45 years. Besides, the work was required to be published/unpublished in Pakistan/South Asia over the past three years.

The jury preferred novels set in contemporary times, or at least centred on contemporary issues in Pakistan, involving big cities.

The Pakistani jury consisted of Bina Shah, H.M. Naqvi and Salman Tariq Qureshi whereas Gaia Amaducci, Monica Martignoni and Giovanni Garbellini comprised the Italian jury.

Published in Dawn, February 10th, 2017

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