Programme

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Friday, 16 May 2014
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
11:30 AM – 01:00 PM – Panel 1: Native Informants: Art of Sabotage

Moderator

  • Kaiser Haq

Discussants

  • 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.

01:15 PM – 01:45 PM – Reading by Syed Manzoorul Islam
01:45 PM – 02:30 pm – Lunch
02:45 PM – 03:15 PM – Reading by Alev Adil
03:30 PM – 05:00 PM – Panel 2: Muslims In Fiction: New Prototypes

Moderator

  • Khademul Islam

Discussants

  • 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.

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Saturday, 17 May 2014
10:00 AM – 11:30 AM – Panel 3: New Lines, New Letters

Moderator

  • Maya Jaggi

Discussants

  • Alev Adil
  • Nick Richardson

Panel Details: World Literature is a catch-all name for writings from the West that, often thanks to colonial pathways, but also their inherent universality, found audiences across many cultures. The newer nomenclature of Global Literature has served as a code for writings from the other direction. Now an even newer trend is surfacing: lines that didn’t exist – between Russian and French, or Chinese and English – but are drawn as new generations cross non-colonial borders into new paradigms. Is Anderi Makine a French writer? Is Yiyun Li Chinese? If they belong neither to the culture of their familial origins nor to the host culture, who are they? Can writers be free-floaters – artists, indeed, of the floating world?

11:30 AM – 12:00 PM – Reading by Maria Chaudhuri
12:00 PM – 12:30 PM – Reading by Chandrahas Choudhury
12:30 PM – 01:00 PM – Lunch
01:00 PM – 02:30 PM – Panel 4: Post-Post-Colonials: Breaking Bad

Moderator

  • Ahsan Akbar

Discussants

  • Chandrahas Choudhury
  • Nick Richardson
  • Sadaf Saaz

Panel Details: Increasingly writers from once-colonial places are moving away from the role of “exotics”. Less interested to use their characters as stand-ins for an entire nation or group, they are more keen to delve into issues of human and intellectual compulsion. Is the Western audience, still a robust market for updated informants, willing to embrace such works? Rana Dasgupta’s Solo might be one of the more dramatic expressions of such departures. But he’s not the only one. This panel will look at writers such as Tash Aw and Jeet Thayil, among others, who are finding startling ways to re-shape western notions of what to expect from “others.”

02:45 PM – 03:15 PM – Reading by Mohammed Hanif
03:30 PM – 05:00 PM – Closing Session: Neither Reportage, Nor Fantasy: The Speculative Sphere of Fiction

Moderator

  • K Anis Ahmed

Discussants

  • Chandrahas Choudhury
  • Maya Jaggi
  • Mohammed Hanif
  • Syed Manzoorul Islam

Panel Details: This session will bring writers together in a discussion about the form of fiction. Neocolonial demands are not the only reasons that reportage or ethnography masquerade as literature. Other pressures – socialism and nationalism – have also harvested comparably damaged crops. The rebellion against such strictures has sent some writers into flights of invention where fantasy is no longer an element of fiction, but the entirety of it. In the best cases, as with García Márquez, reportage and fantasy melded marvelously to yield a form of consciousness that feels resonant and real. With dutiful reportage and escapist fantasies on the wane, are authors like Sebald, Bolaño, Makine and Marías harbingers of a new discursive moment in world literature? Are we on the verge of a new world literature, one which will yield whole new ways of looking at what it means to be human?

05:00 PM Closing
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