Manchester Literature Festival showcases Asian Literature

Manchester Literature Festival 2017 logo

The Manchester Literature Festival will showcase contemporary Asian Literature with guest speakers and special commissions from Friday 6th – Sunday 22nd October 2017. Among those highlighted are prize-winning British-Pakistani author, Qaisra Shahraz; spoken word artist, performer and playwright, Nafeesa Hamid; Elif Shafak & Nadeem Aslam; Arundhathi Subramaniam and Kamila Shamsie, among many others.

Manchester Literature Festival Schedule

Stories from Around the World with Qaisra Shahraz
Wednesday 11th October, 6.30pm
Elizabeth Gaskell’s

The prize-winning British-Pakistani author of The Holy Woman and Typhoon, Qaisra Shahraz launches a dazzling new collection of short stories, The Concubine and the Slave-Catcher: Stories from Around the World. Set on four continents and at different periods in history, her stories focus on the drama of human relationships, played out against various scenarios: the daily struggles for survival of Jews in a Polish concentration camp; the selling of slaves in 18th-century Boston; the tragedies of the partition of India and Pakistan; modern-day friendships in Abu Dhabi, and the fatal jealousy of an Inca concubine and a Spanish wife in 16th-century Peru. Qaisra recently won the prestigious National Diversity Lifetime Achiever Award for Services to Literature, Education, Gender and Interfaith Activism. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and a Director of Asia Pacific Writers and Translators partnership.

The Things I Would Tell You
Asma Elbadawi, Nafeesa Hamid, Hibaq Osman & Sabrina Mahfouz
Sunday 15th October, 4.30pm at Central Library

The Things I Would Tell You is an anthology that features 22 British Muslim women writers whose stories and poems transcend time, place and stereotypes to blow away the narrow image of the ‘Muslim woman’. Nikesh Shukla describes it as an ‘exquisite collection full of energy, experimentation, honesty, beauty, fury, heartbreak and laughs. Defiantly multi-cultural.’

This special event features live performances from four of the contributors:

  • Sabrina Mahfouz is a British Egyptian playwright, poet and screenwriter whose play Chef won the 2014 Fringe First Award. Her poetry has been produced for TV, radio and film and published in the collection, How You Might Know Me.
  • Nafeesa Hamid is a spoken word artist, performer and playwright based in Birmingham.
  • Hibaq Osman is a past winner of the Roundhouse Poetry Slam; her debut collection is A Silence You Can Carry.
  • Asma Elbadawi is a Sudanese-born spoken word artist who was a finalist for Words First, the BBC Radio 1Xtra/Roundhouse poetry competition

Elif Shafak & Nadeem Aslam
Sunday 15th October, 2pm, Central Library

Elif Shafak & Nadeem Aslam – two gifted, cosmopolitan novelists come together for an afternoon of boundary crossing fiction, from Asia to Britain. One of the most widely read writers in her native Turkey, Elif Shafak’s nine acclaimed novels have been translated into 40 languages and include The Architect’s Apprentice, Honour, and The Bastard of Istanbul. She will read and discuss her new novel, Three Daughters of Eve, a sweeping tale of faith, friendship and betrayal set in Istanbul and Oxford, that the Financial Times called ‘an intelligent, fierce and beguiling read’.

Nadeem Aslam is the author of award-winning novels including Season of the Rainbirds, Maps for Lost Lovers and The Blind Man’s Garden. His new book, The Golden Legend, is the brave and searingly beautiful story of a Pakistan community consumed by religious intolerance, and a new love searching for a place to blossom in the wreckage of violence. The Guardian called it ‘exhilarating …an exquisite, painful book.’

This event is presented in partnership with Karachi Literature Festival, and will be hosted by MLF Patron and critic Erica Wagner.

Arundhathi Subramaniam
Monday 16th October 2017, 1pm
Central Library

Arundhathi Subramaniam attended the first Manchester Literature Festival in 2006 and we are thrilled to welcome her back on Monday 16th October, 1pm at Central Library to the city to share her sensual and soulful poetry exploring the contradictory nature of living in a Third World megalopolis. She has published two books of poetry in Britain with Bloodaxe, Where I Live: New & Selected Poems and When God Is a Traveller, shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize, and is featured in the DVD anthology In Person: World Poets. She has also written books on spirituality and culture, including The Book of Buddha and Sadhguru: More Than a Life. Winner of the inaugural Khushwant Singh Memorial Prize for Poetry in 2015, the Raza Award for Poetry, and the International Piero Bigongiari Prize, she mostly lives in Mumbai (a city she is perennially on the verge of leaving).

Kamila Shamsie in conversation with Jeanette Winterson
Tuesday 17 October7.30pm at the Cosmo Rodewald Concert Hall, Martin Harris Centre for Music and Drama

Join two of our most incisive practitioners of fiction for a conversation about writing narratives that reflect and explore current affairs. A contemporary retelling of Sophocles’s Antigone, Kamila Shamsie’s new novel Home Fire, set in the UK, US and Syria, is a powerful tale of loyalty and love; two families’ fates intertwine amid rising danger, jihad and political unrest. Peter Carey said: ‘it left me awestruck, on the edge of my chair, filled with admiration for her courage and ambition.’

Kamila is the author of six novels, including Burnt Shadows (shortlisted for the Orange Prize) and A God in Every Stone (shortlisted for the Baileys Prize), and was selected by Granta as a Best Young British Novelist in 2013. She grew up in Karachi and now lives in London, and lectures at The University of Manchester’s Centre for New Writing.

She will be in conversation with the award winning and prolific author Jeanette Winterson, Professor of New Writing at The University of Manchester.

These two are special commissions for this year’s Festival:

Zaffar Kunal
Thursday 19th October, 7pm
The Whitworth

For this special co-commission by MLF and The Whitworth, Zaffar Kunial will be writing a series of new poems responding to the work of artist Raqib Shaw, whose paintings of fantastical worlds draw on renaissance and baroque imagery, combined with theatrical extravagance, myth, nature and religion. A rising star in the poetry world, Zaffar published a pamphlet in the Faber New Poets series in 2014 and his first full length collection is due next year. He was Poet-in-Residence at the Wordsworth Trust in Grasmere and was the recipient of a Northern Writers’ Award. Born to an English mother and Kashmiri father in Birmingham, he is interested in exploring dual identity, oral dialect, language and landscape in his work. Come and hear Zaffar perform his new poems then discuss his work with fellow poet Andrew McMillan.

Imtiaz Dharker, New North and South
Friday 20th October, 1pm
Manchester Art Gallery

Poet, artist and documentary filmmaker Imtiaz Dharker will be writing this year’s Manchester Art Gallery co-commission, responding to solo exhibitions from South Asian artists Neha Choski, Risham Syed, Mehreen Murtaza, Waqas Khan and Hetain Patel. The exhibitions are part of New North and South, an ambitious three-year programme of contemporary art celebrating the shared heritage of South Asia and the North of England. Born in Pakistan, but living for many years in Britain, Imtiaz’s many collections include Purdah, Postcards from god, I speak for the Devil, The terrorist at my table, Leaving Fingerprints and Over the Moon. ‘If there were to be a World Laureate, then for me the role could only be filled by Imtiaz Dharker,’ said Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy.

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