Asia House Festival of Asian Literature

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The Asia House Festival of Asian Literature, now in its seventh year is the only UK festival dedicated to pan-Asian writings, cultures, authors and peoples and will take place at Asia House and other prestigious cultural venues around the capital in April and May.

In 2013, this truly unique Festival widens its remit to include more than 15 countries, with authors from Turkey, Syria and parts of the Middle East appearing alongside authors writing about Afghanistan, Burma, China, India, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, and Britain.

The theme for 2013 is ‘Freedom’ in many contexts: freedom of expression, education, travel, justice, the freedom to read the truth and to live in our chosen ways. Globetrotter Michael Palin, prize-winning novelists Mohsin Hamid, Elif Shafak, Nadeem Aslam and Tan Twan Eng, plus debates on Women and Freedom, What Next for Burma? and whether British Asians are ‘doomed to be uncool’, will headline.

Key highlights include:

Pre-festival events

Wednesday 3 April, 6.45pm, Asia House – How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia

Man Booker Prize shortlisted author Mohsin Hamid (The Reluctant Fundamentalist) celebrates the launch of his new novel How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia (one of the hottest books of the year ‘The Guardian’ has said), in conversation with Razia Iqbal.

Thursday 18 April, 6.45pm, Asia House – Women, Freedom and the Islamic World

With Turkey at number 122 on the Gender Gap Index, a formidable panel of female writers look at key issues concerning women in Islamic societies today. Turkey’s biggest selling female author Elif Shafak(Honour), joins Iraqi activist Haifa Zangana (Dreaming of Baghdad), and Iranian novelist Kamin Mohammadi(The Cypress Tree) to debate love, family, culture, war, freedom and autonomy, how writing can affect change and other concerns, at this event in partnership with British Council’s Turkey Market Focus 2013.

Sunday 21 April, Alchemy – A Long Way from Home: A Personal Journey from Helmand to England

Eighteen-year-old Najib Afghan, wounded in a bombing in Helmand and now a student in the UK, shares his personal journey from Afghanistan to Britain, updating his story following a recent visit to his home and family. Featuring Poetry of the Taliban with Felix Kuehn and moderated by Kenan Malik, this event is part of Asia House’s contribution to the 2013 Alchemy Festival at Southbank Centre.

Asia House Festival of Asian Literature events, 7-22 May 2013:

Tuesday 7 May, 6.45pm, The Commonwealth Club – Opening Night with Michael Palin

Globetrotter Michael Palin discusses his travels across Asia.

Wednesday 8 May, 6.45pm, Asia House – Nadeem Aslam in Conversation with Homa Khaleeli

From one of the most important young Pakistanis writing today comes an exquisitely written novel set in Pakistan and Afghanistan in the months following 9/11. Nadeem Aslam’s The Blind Man’s Garden is a story of war, love, of one family’s losses, and of the simplest, most enduring human impulses.

Friday 10 May, 6.45pm, Asia House – British Asian Culture: Doomed to be “Uncool”?

‘Inspired’ by the term “Cool Britannia”, a panel of “Cool British Asians” looks at the development of British Asian culture, food, literature and music in 2013 and asks the burning question: “can we ever be perceived as cool”? With poet, playwright and performer Siddhartha Bose (Kalagora), award-winning TV chef and writer Ravinder Bhogal (Cook in Boots), popular BBC radio and television presenter Nihal Arthanayake (DJ Nihal) and infamous broadcaster Bobbie Friction (BBC Asian Network, Desi Music); deftly moderated by award-winning journalist and author Sathnam Sanghera (The Boy with the Top Knot).

Monday 13 May, 6.45pm, Asia House – Cricket and the Rise of Modern India

Full details to be announced soon.


Tuesday 14 May, 6.45pm, Asia House – Re-Imagining the Chinese Dream

The popular view of China is one of an economic powerhouse set to dominate the 21st century. But what will recent political, economic and social changes mean to ordinary Chinese citizens and the rest of the world? Highly respected journalists and experts on China Will Hutton (The Writing on the Wall-China and the West in the 21st Century); Jonathan Fenby (Modern China, The Seventy Wonders of China); Gerard Lemos (The End of the Chinese Dream: Why Chinese People Fear the Future) and Isabel Hinton(ChinaDialogue, The Guardian), investigate beyond the tourist trail and press coverage, offering a revealing picture of all facets of China, including its own ability to cope with a changing world.


Thursday 16 May, 6.45pm, Asia House – Mark My Words: Censorship and Freedom of Expression

Panel discussion looking at censorship in India, Sri Lanka, China and across Asia, with experts in their field, journalists and commentators John Kampfner (Freedom for Sale); Tarun Tejpal (The Story of My Assassins),Frances Harrison (Still Counting the Dead) and Kirsty Hughes (Index on Censorship).

Monday 20 May – Burma Day at Asia House

A day of discussion, prose and poetry dedicated to Burma…including:

What Next For Burma? (The View from the Inside)

Discussion with Burma experts Ben Rogers (Burma-A Nation at the Crossroads), Wendy Law Yone (The Golden Parasol) and Burma Campaign UK coordinator Zoya Phan (Little Daughter). Moderated by award-winning television journalist, Sue Lloyd-Roberts.

Wednesday 22 May, 6.45pm, Asia House – Closing Night with Tan Twan Eng

A spectacular evening of food and drink and discussion to close the Festival, with twice shortlisted Man Booker Prize and Man Asian Prize author Tan Twan Eng (The Garden of Evening Mists).

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