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
The last session was a talk between William Dalrymple and Ahmed Rashid. – Photo by Tabinda Siddiqi/Dawn.com
“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
Panelists Kamil K. Mumtaz, Nayyar Ali Dada and Ebba Koch.
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
Tehmina Durrani spoke about her life and work.
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
Rashid Rahman with Kenzie Mourad. -Photo by Sara Faruqi/Dawn.com
Writing ‘Daughter of the East’
Linda Bird Francke in conversation with Victoria Schofield (L). -Photo by Sara Faruqi/Dawn.com
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
Moshin Hamid reads from his upcoming book. – Photo by Sara Faruqi/Dawn.com
The crowds were jam packed to see Mohsin Hamid. – Photo by Sara Faruqi/Dawn .com
“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
Ali Sethi with Ayesha Jalal.
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
Faiza Khan with Muneeza Shamsie.
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
Another day of packed sessions at the Lahore Literary Festival. -Photo by Tabinda Siddiqi/Dawn.com
Volunteers at the Lahore Literary Festival. From left to right: Jannat Mazari, Fawaz Naeem, Zaeimuddin, Aqib Sherwani, Hamza Arshad, Saad Farrukh and Usman Alavi.
Narrative forms in Urdu fiction and poetry
Afzal Ahmed Syed, Ali Akbar Natiq, Khalid Toor, and Musharraf Ali Farooqi. -Photo by Tabinda Siddiqi/Dawn.com
Out of it: Conversation with Salma Dabbagh
Aysha Raja with Salma Dabbagh. -Photo by Tabinda Siddiqi/Dawn.com
Commonwealth, nationalism and globalisation
Muneeza Shamsie, Moni Mohsin, Jeet Thayil, Nadeem Aslam, Shehan Karunatilaka. -Photo by Tabinda Siddiqi/Dawn.com
“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
Intizar Hussain talking about Urdu literature in Punjab. -Photo by Tabinda Siddiqi/Dawn.com
Mohammed Hanif with IA Rehman. -Photo by Tabinda Siddiqi/Dawn.com
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.
The first day of the Lahore Literary Festival wrapped up after packed sessions throughout the day.
As the day ended at the Lahore Literary Festival the chatter at Alhamra reflected an atmosphere where it seemed Lahoris came, saw and took away many interesting thoughts and ideas. The satire session had the audience hooting and laughing, while Pakistan, a Modern Country? had people in avid discussion after.
Young Lahori hipsters, curious students, socialites and formidable uncles could be seen in and out of the halls at Alhmara today mixing with authors, journalists and filmmakers.
Off to the Mushaira now! Be sure to log on tomorrow for Dawn.com’s coverage of day two.
Zehra Nigah on poetry and translation
Zehra Nigah with Intizar Hussain. -Photo by Sara Faruqi/Dawn.com
The courtesan in literature: From Umrao Jan to Gohar Jan
The courtesan in literature from Umrao Jan to Gohar jan discussion was based on the elaborate and aristocratic lifestyle of a courtesan. Panelists discussed the difference between a prostitute and a courtesan while Naveed Shahzad described the similarities between characters of a wrestler and a courtesan. The panelists also discussed the romanticism involved in the characters of courtesans including their weaknesses and strengths were also part of the disscussion along with the fascination of this character in the East as they have been a subject of many directors and writers especially in the sub continent. -Text by Mariyam Pervaiz
Literature of resistance
Ali Dayan Hassan, Basharat Peer, Selma Dabbagh, Mohammed Hanif and Lyse Doucet with Arundhati Roy on Skype. -Photo by Tabinda Siddiqi
Basharat Peer, Owen Bennett-Jones, Sarah Singh, and Urvashi Butalia moderated by Khaled Ahmed. -Photo by Tabinda Siddiqi/Dawn.com
National narrative is tied to identity. - Sara Singh
If you can’t reach an agreement on these very pertinent issues, then there is a problem. - Owen Bennett Jones on what it means to be an Islamic country.
It is interesting that the push for normalisation of trade is coming from the corporate world. - Urvashi Butalia
Lahore in literature
Intizar Hussain, Ebba Koch, Rafay Alam, Bapsi Sidhwa and Pran Nevile. -Photo by Tabinda Siddiqi/Dawn.com
The session Lahore in Literature was jam packed; a great number of people could be heard from outside the hall, raising a hue and cry as they had been locked out.
Almost all had come to listen to a panel comprising Intizar Husain, Bapsi Sidhwa , Ebba Koch and Pran Nevile. Sidhwa, as graceful as ever, talked about how her writings depict the splendor of the city. For her, Lahore is not a violent city but one that comprises people who enjoy life to the fullest. Beloved City, an anthology of writings about Lahore was for her a “labour of love.”
Pran Nevile brilliantly summed up his talk about the city: “Lahore is beyond definition. It can only be experienced.”
Ebba Koch unfortunately was barely audible and only a few were able to hear her take on the city and various narratives based on it.
Intizar Sahab was the toast of the session which took a life of its own the minute he started to reminisce about the Lahore of olden times. He lamented how Partition was not only of the land, but also of the people; writers and poets were divided between the two countries and their identity became a question mark.
Overall the session was not very well moderated and the participants were unable to tap into its potential. – Text by Haneen Rafi
Lahore is beyond definition; it can only be experienced. - Pran Nevile
I don’t think there are more eating places in any other city – Lahore is as enjoyable today as it was in the past. - Bapsi Sidhwa
Literary Bytes: Moni Mohsin on how her columns are received
The Citizens Archive of Pakistan covers Iqbal at LLF
“Allama Iqbal’s fame reaches far beyond the east as he has received attention from numerous writers translators and critics from western as well as other Islamic countries which testifies to his stature as a global literary figure. He was a strong proponent of the political and spiritual revival of Islamic civilization.”
- Photos by Sara Faruqi/Dawn.com
Literary Bytes: Hameed Haroon on Lahore
Translation of Faiz
Raza Rumi and Mahmood Jamal at the ‘Translating Faiz’ session. – Photo by Tabinda Siddiqi/Dawn.com
Pakistan a modern country?
The panelists from ‘Pakistan a Modern Country?; – Photo by Tabinda Siddiqi/Dawn.com
The room for ‘Pakistan a Modern Country?’ was packed. – Photo by Tabinda Siddiqi/Dawn.com
Pakistan claims to be a modern state but in reality we are not seemed to be the conclusion in the session called ‘Pakistan a modern country?’
Tariq Ali, Ayesha Jalal, Francis Robinson emphasized that religion and state were two important aspects and should be dealt separately.
Ayesha Jalal said, “state has to be religiously neutral.” Adding that although Pakistan is a vibrant country there is room for improvement, however the intellectual class needs to debate on issues like religion rather than avoiding it.
The partiality of a state creating problems for the citizens prevail on a very high level was an important point of the discussion among the panelists. Talking about the survival of the country Tariq Ali was confident that the country was going to last forever, but the issue would remain what sort of state would prevail.
There are issues related to class discrimination, population, health and culture he said. Ali condemned the drone attacks and said the country was in such a state only because of the deep-rooted feudal system and the prevailing culture of political legacy which had traumatized the nation. The panelists also agreed that Pakistan in the 50’s and 60’s was more progressive as compared to today. – Text by Mariyam Pervaiz
“A huge problem of the state is that it think it is modern.”- Ayesha Jalal
“Religion and state should not be a part of the functioning of the government.” – Tariq Ali
Intellectual class should debate about religion. But only those who are damaging the religion are talking about it and the educated want to know less about it. - Ayesha Jalal
Literary Bytes: Shehan Karunatilaka on Pakistan
The panelists from the satire session. – Photo by Tabinda Siddiqi/Dawn.com
“I am a satirist with a purpose to make people laugh and to make people think.” - Moni Mohsin
“People read satire as if the story is about somebody else and not themselves.” - Moni Mohsin
“Writers mostly make shit up.” - Mohammed Hanif
“Life is too short, mine especially.” - Shehan Karunatilaka
“Satire is the greatest tradition of humour.” - William Dalrymple
Film, newsmedia and music in frontline Pakistan
Hameed Haroon spoke on film, media and music in Pakistan. – Photo by Sara Faruqi/Dawn.com
“The holy warrior and the enemy” by Hameed Haroon is a cinematic journey from 1958 to 2008 depicting soldiers and militant efforts projected in the media and how this has influenced the minds of the common man.
Haroon says “disillusionment created search for messiah”. Though the progressive showcasing of the works by the film makers in the past has helped in bringing the issues in the forefront but freedom of expression still remains the core issue as far as depiction of ideas is concerned.
Gradually with the passage of time, television has taken over this medium and cinema is nowhere to be seen. He also said that literary festivals should not be restricted to books but arts and cinema should also be projected. Every government has tried to manipulate cinema in their own way especially during the era of Zia which created the most negative impact in our media and cinema.
From directors like Riaz Shahid, Jamal Dhelvi, to Shoaib Mansoor, from poets like Habib Jalib to Faiz Ahmed Faiz everyone has contributed to develop a progressive thinking and educate the public about the emergence of militants and other mullah groups but all such efforts have been suppressed by the governments. Haroon said that the youth should always be educated with the on going situation in the society. – Text by Mariyam Pervaiz
Book enthusiasts browse the stalls during the lunch break.
Kenize Mourad is a French journalist and author. – Photo by Sara Faruqi/Dawn.com
“The intellectual level is very high at the festival and it raises political issues which are vital for Pakistan today.” - Kenize Mourad
The Blind Man’s Garden
Nadeem Aslam discusses his book ‘The Blind Man’s Garden’ with Declan Walsh. – Photo by Sara Faruqi/Dawn.com
It was a full house for the Nadeem Aslam session. – Photo by Sara Faruqi/Dawn.com
Nadeem Aslam is a charmer. His tone and tremor, the pauses and contemplative words that he brilliantly exhibited at the Karachi Literature Festival has won him many admirers here at the Lahore Literary Festival. Talking about his latest offering, The Blind Man’s Garden, and the response it has received both locally and internationally, Aslam talked about how the reception it received varied; in India and Pakistan it was hailed as a very beautiful book, while the rest of the world calls it a dark and bleak novel. “I discourage people from visiting” had the crowd rolling over in laughter while his strict rationing considering the humble life he lives received a burst of sympathetic laughter: “I feel guilty for eating if I haven’t written that day.” – Text by Haneen Rafi
“Nadeem Aslam was made in the East, assembled in the West.” - Declan Walsh
“The impulse behind The Blind Man’s Garden was to make fiction out of politics.” - Nadeem Aslam
“I’m not afraid of making a mistake in Pakistan.” - Nadeem Aslam
Globalization of Pakistan’s Literature
The panelists from Globalization of Pakistan’s Literature. – Photo by Sara Faruqi/Dawn.com
“You don’t really choose what you write about, it chooses you.” – Daniyal Mueenuddin
“I don’t write about sex because it is difficult to write about good sex.” – Moni Mohsin
Chinaman: The Legend of Pradeep Mathew
Shehan Karunatilaka. -Photo by Sara Faruqi/Dawn.com
“Chinaman was supposed to be a detective novel.” - Shehan Karunatilaka
Politics and Culture with Tariq Ali
The Keynote Speech was given by Tariq Ali. – Photo by Sara Faruqi/Dawn.com
Hello and welcome to Dawn.com’s coverage of the first Lahore Literary Festival! It’s a drizzly and grey morning here in Lahore, but unlike Karachi, rain hasn’t stopped literature lovers from turning up in huge numbers. Lines are snaking their way through the Alhamra Art Centre as people line up to enter sessions.
Keep checking back for highlights, videos and photos from the Festival! If you are craving some leiterary treats, you can always browse our KLF coverage.