LONDON – Is Shakespeare the secret muse behind some of
Bollywood’s best known classics? What would the Leveson inquiry look like if it were to visit the subcontinent? What are the consequences of Idi Amin’s expulsion of Asians from Uganda 40
years ago? Did the Grimm Brothers get all their fairytale ideas from India? These are just some of the questions that will be explored in
the programme for the third annual South Asian Literature Festival announced today.
The line-up for the Festival, which takes place from the 1-11 November 2012, features over 80 novelists, journalists, performers and writers from the UK and abroad, participating in over 50
events across London.
Directors of the South Asian Literature Festival, Bhavit Mehta and Jon Slack said “This is an even bigger, broader third edition of the
Festival for 2012. There’s something here for everybody – South Asian media ethics; the Mughal empire; a tribute to the groundbreaking
Urdu partition writer Manto. On top of that we’re launching several excellent autumn titles at the Festival and showcasing fresh writing from a host of outstanding new voices.”
For the opening weekend, the Festival will take over the Bush Theatre with four days of talks, theatre, workshops, comedy and even live cooking.
The Festival opens on Thursday November 1st with a discussion of Shakespeare in South Asia – a debate on how much influence
the great Sanskrit Epics had on Britain’s best known playwright- and, conversely, how strongly the Bard’s work has influenced countless Bollywood storylines. The Festival will also screen the performances of Taming of the
Shrew in Urdu and Twelf th Night in Hindi, as seen at the Globeto-Globe series at Shakespeare’s Globe. They will complement a
discussion with Globe Festival Director Tom Bird and Theatre Directors Tim Supple and Iqbal Khan (currently touring the RSC’s Much Ado About Nothing), about the challenges of staging
Shakespeare in South Asian settings.
Forty years on from the expulsion of 60,000 Asians from Uganda by Idi Amin, the Festival
commemorates this occasion with a half-day symposium at the Commonwealth Club on
Tuesday 6th November. Speakers include author Giles Foden, journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, businessman Kamlesh Madhvani and former Assistant Commisioner at the Metropolitan Police, Tarique Ghaf fur, CBE QPM. The event also launches Exiles: a major new oral-history project funded by Heritage Lottery Fund, to record and share the stories and experiences of the Ugandan-Asian community.
The politics and ethics of South Asia’s mass media will be debated at an event on Tuesday
6th November, with journalists asking: What would the Leveson Inquiry report if it
were to examine media across the subcontinent? Featuring a keynote address from Hameed Haroon – proprietor of Dawn, Pakistan’s oldest and most widely read English language newspaper – plus, among others, journalists Andrew Whitehead and Nupur Basu.
The work of Urdu writer Saadat Hassan Manto, chronicling the partition of India, has left a lasting mark on contemporary novelists. The Festival celebrates the centenary of his
birth with readings and reflections on his life and legacy at the Free Word Centre on Wednesday 7th November.
Below is a selection of other highlights.
• Fairytale expert Neil Philip and storyteller Seema Anand joins historian and writer Marina Warner to investigate the origins of fairytales in South Asia from the Panchatantra to the Brothers Grimm. Sun 4th Nov, 1.45pm, Bush Theatre.
• Broadcaster Sarfraz Manzoor tackles race, religion and rock’n’roll in his new stand-up show. His mission: to prove that Bruce Springsteen’s songs contain the secrets of life, love and happiness. Sun 4th Nov, 7pm, Bush Theatre.
• As the exhibition Mughal India: Art, Culture and Empire opens at The British Library, the Festival hosts an extraordinary closing night of music, performance and spectacle in the main foyer, inspired by a Mughal Palace. Prior to this will be a discussion on the impact of the Mughals on the subcontinent, with journalist and
author John Keay, author Timeri Murari, V&A curator and author Susan Stronge and journalist Fergus Nicoll. Fri 9th Nov, 6.30pm for panel, 7.30pm for party, British Library.
• Author of The Impossible Indian: Gandhi and the Temptations of Violence Faisal Devji and academic Richard Sorabji will challenge idealistic portrayals of Gandhi that prevail today. Sun 4th Nov, 3.30pm, Bush Theatre.
Nadeem Aslam exclusively previews his forthcoming release The Blind Man’s Garden, set in Pakistan and Afghanistan in the months following 9/11. Discussing his work with Arifa Akbar. Sun 4th Nov, 1.45pm, Bush Theatre.
• Kipling & Trix. Harvard academic Mary Hamer delves into the little-known life of Alice (or Trix) Kipling, sister to the famous Rudyard. This event explores lies, love, troubles, and family secrets, set against the backdrops of colonial India, Edwardian England, and Vermont. Sun 4th Nov, 3.30pm, Bush Theatre.
• Exploring India: The Story of a Nation. Can non-Indians write about India without facing criticism? Writers who take on this often-fraught task bring a fresh perspective and new insights to the table. But does the issue lie in the lack of Indian’s willing to record India’s own story? With Michael Wood, Patrick
French, Roy Moxham, Alex von Tunzelmann and Salil Tripathi. Mon 5th Nov 6.30pm, The British Library.
• The Festival launches two new writing collections. Lifelines: a new writing
collection of young Bangladeshi women authors – published by Indian publisher Zubaan and edited by Farah Ghuznavi. Closer to home: Five Degrees, a short story anthology compiled by The Asian Writer, features 14 new short stories from some of the UK’s sharpest emerging writers, many who will read from their work.
Both events are hosted by broadcaster and journalist Bidisha. Sat 3rd Nov,
Bangladeshi event at 1.15pm, The Asian Writer at 5.15pm, both at the Bush Theatre.
The full programme can be found online at http://southasianlitfest.com. Tickets can be
bought through the Festival website or by calling the Box Office on 020 7205 2510,
between 10am – 6pm, Mon – Sat.
Follow the Festival on Twitter @SthAsianLitFest and at facebook.com/southasianlitfest