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Finding delight in Asian literature

Until 30 May, the only Asian Literature Festival in Great Britain will bring together the best writers from the world’s largest continent.


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The most outstanding literary works from the Asian continent, written in more than 20 different languages, will be offered up for our discovery in London, direct from their authors, as part of the sixth Festival of Asian Literature in Great Britain.

In this multicultural meeting it will be possible to find a wide representation of contemporary oriental literature, written in countries such as Iran, Afghanistan, China, as well as other regions of south, central and south-east Asia.

This year the festival is organised around the various themes of contemporary interest on which the works being presented during the event have been centred.

Subsequently, the festival will involve themes as distinct as the Arab spring and its repercussions in Asia. At the debate-table “Writing revolution – Arab spring” first hand witnesses of the uprisings such as Ahdaf Souelf, author of “Cairo-My City Our revolution”, will explain how the world is changing and seeing itself affected by the uprisings in the Arab world.

In a similar vein, there will be a debate at another table with readers over how oil is changing the Asian geopolitical map, and at the same time awakening the interest of countries from other continents. In attendance will be Rafael Kandiyoti, author of “Flowing Oil and Crude Politics”, and Greg Muttit, author of“Oil and Politics in occupied Iraq”.

The meeting will not lose sight of the situation of women in the continent and their relation to power. The debate, “Women, power and politics”, will analyse the books about Aung San Suu Kyi and Sonia Gandhi by the writers Rani Singh and Peter Popham respectively, in which a contrast is drawn between a society in which two of the most powerful women in the world live and the otherwise scarce representation of women in positions of power.

The enrichment of the tradition of verse by contemporary Persian poets will be discussed during the meeting.

Contemporary poets such as Reza Mohammadi and Azita Ghahreman will be present in a meeting to explain how they are adding to a tradition of poetry that their region is renowned for; a region that is home to authors read all over the world such as Rumi or Hafez.

Along with all of this, the festival will look at the important figures that are emerging in certain countries such as Sri Lanka. Their literary contributions will be analysed at a table around which three of the most important representatives, Roshi Fernando, Romesh Gunesekera and Shehan Karunatilaka, will be present.

The event will include activities for all ages. Some have been especially thought out for families with children, such as story-telling, Islamic fables, yoga activities and Indian cooking.

The festival will take place at Asia House, 69, New Cavendish Street, and in the Southbank Centre in Belvedere Road until 30 May.

For more information: http://asiahouse.org/arts-and-culture/festival-of-asian-literature.

(Translated by Tim Huntington)

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