Welcome to the first ever Bengal Lights Literary Conclave, hosted by the University of Liberal Arts, Bangladesh (ULAB)! This conclave aims to occupy the discussion space between literary festivals and academic conferences. The distinguished panel of writers, scholars and critics who have gathered here from around the world will spend the next two days exploring this year’s theme Beyond Identity Narratives: Defining a New World Fiction. There will be structured panel discussions that each address an essential and complementary aspect of the broader topic. At the end of the two days, we hope to collate and distill what is said here into in essays to be later published in the Bengal Lights literary journal as well as partner publications. Thank you for joining us in starting a tradition and setting a new standard of literary debate in Bangladesh!





Program Schedule
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10:00 AM – 11:00 AM – Opening Session
  • Welcome Note by Imran Rahman, ULAB Vice-Chancellor
  • Introduction to the Program by K. Anis Ahmed, Publisher, Bengal Lights
  • Guest Speech by Maya Jaggi: A New Globalism in Letters
  • A reading by Farrukh Dhondy, introduced  by Khademul Islam
11:00 AM – 11:30 AM – Refreshments
01:45 PM – 02:30 pm – Lunch
01:15 PM – 01:45 PM – Reading by Syed Manzoorul Islam
03:30 PM – 05:00 PM – Panel 2: Muslims In Fiction: New Prototypes


  • Khademul Islam


  • Alev Adil
  • Fakrul Alam
  • Mohammed Hanif

Panel Details: Post 9/11, a host of books with Muslim characters were written – some by Muslim writers – and brought out by Western publishers to great acclaim. Do these works bear the marks of a distorted political discourse? Did they serve up simple binaries of “good” and “bad” Muslims? Or did the writers still manage to capture the  tremendous heterogeneity of the Muslim world? This panel will focus on two recent books: Tabish Khair’s How to Fight Islamist Terror from the Missionary Position, and Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist, but also refer to other salient works.

02:45 PM – 03:15 PM – Reading by Alev Adil
11:30 AM – 01:00 PM – Panel 1: Native Informants: Art of Sabotage


  • Kaiser Haq


  • Farah Ghuznavi
  • Farrukh Dhondy
  • Firdous Azim

Panel Details: Whenever cultures of unequal power meet, the lesser power is almost invariably placed in the role of a “native informant”: a puppet, acting out a likeness of its culture.  This figure is well known from writings of the colonial period, but are there new variants of it that are demanded and rewarded by a new globalism? And is the “native” ever really that passive? This panel will look at sub-continental writers – Naipaul, Kureishi, Ali, and of course, Farruk Dhondy on stage himself – to see how “natives” subvert the informant role to create texts of abiding literary richness. And how such pressures may still persist, and when or how writers pass or falter.

Speaker Lineup
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Fakrul Alam
Fakrul Alam is a Bangladeshi academic, writer, and translator and editor of Six Season’s ...
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Syed Manzoorul Islam
Syed Manzoorul Islam is a Bangladeshi academic, writer, translator, columnist, and critic ...
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Sadaf Saaz
Sadaf Saaz is a Bangladeshi entrepreneur, activist and author of Sari Reams
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Nick Richardson
Nick Richardson is an editor at the London Review of Books
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Maya Jaggi
Maya Jaggi is a cultural journalist and profile-writer and critic for Guardian Review
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