Standout Sessions at LLF 2022: Politics, Publishing, Power Couples & the Plague
Lahore Literary Festival 2022 brought together a vibrant assembly of writers, artists, journalists, curators and culture commentators to the good old Alhamra Arts Council. Some of those physically present included Ahdaf Soueif, Tariq Ali, Marc Baer, Nguyen Phan Que Mai, Sherry Rehman, Osman Yousefzada, Ayesha Jalal, Mohsin Hamid, Jean-Baptise Clais, Mira Sethi, Gaizka Urresti, Ali Akbar Natiq, Zain Saeed, Katie Hickman, Marc Baer, Manan Ahmed, Yasmine Seale, Maleeha Lodhi, Vanessa Muela, Alexandra Pringle, Mehvash Amin, Roopa Farooki, Rasheed Araeen.
Exclusively digital events featured 2021 Booker Prize-winning novelist Damon Galgut, Delhi-based Mughal historian Ira Mukhoty, Austrian art historian Ebba Koch on the Hiran Minar, novelist Rachel Yoder and more.
Lahore Literary Festival 2022 brought together a vibrant assembly of writers, artists, journalists, curators and culture commentators to the good old Alhamra Arts Council
The Standout Sessions at LLF 2022:
1. The Enduring Impact of the Ottomans
Marc David Baer, a Professor of International History at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) spoke to historian and author F.S. Aijazuddin on all things empire. Baer is the author of five books, his latest, ‘Ottomans: Khans, Caesars and Caliphs’, was launched this year at LLF, which interrogates the Ottoman dynasty’s powerful impact on Europe and the rest of the world.
The New Yorker has previously described Baer’s books as a “forceful history” that “takes aim at the notion that the Ottomans represent the antithesis of Western Europe, asking readers ‘to conceptualise a Europe that is not merely Christian’”.
Marc David Baer is the author of five books, his latest, ‘Ottomans: Khans, Caesars and Caliphs’, was launched this year at LLF
2. On the Plague that Changed our World
British novelist and doctor Roopa Farooki spoke to Alexandra Pringle, executive publisher at Bloomsbury Publishing, about her heartfelt memoir of the Covid-19 pandemic entitled, ‘Everything Is True: A Junior Doctor’s Story of Life, Death and Grief in a Time of Pandemic’. Farooki’s book is a devastating retelling of how the deadly virus impacted the lives of medical professionals. In her talk at the festival, Farooki gave an eloquent account of the strain and terror she and her colleagues encountered while trying to save patients’ lives at the height of the pandemic.
Farooki’s book is a devastating retelling of how the deadly virus impacted the lives of medical professionals
3. Pakistan’s Early Power Couple: Fyzee Rahamins
Eminent educator Naazish Ataullah, literary critic Muneeze Shamsie and art historian Samina Iqbal delighted attendees with their revisitation of the lives of artist Samuel Rahamin and his wife Atiya Fayzee. Samuel Fyzee-Rahamin was born in Poona, now Pune, India. After training at the School of Art in India, he moved to London to enrol at the Royal Academy Schools where he was taught by John Singer Sargent and Solomon J. Solomon.
He returned to India in 1908 and became increasingly passionate about creating interest around the traditional style of Mughal painting. On his marriage to Atiya Begum, of the Fyzee family, in 1912, Samuel Rahamin, Jewish by faith, converted to Islam and took the name Fyzee-Rahamin. Atiya was the author The Music of India (1925) and also wrote accounts of her travels in Europe. She was also a friend of Mohammad Iqbal.
Fyzee-Rahamin assisted the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Metropolitan Museum, New York, in their collections of Asian art. He also published plays and poetry. He lived in Karachi after 1947 and his art collection, which he presented to the Aiwan-e-Riffat Museum in Karachi, is now housed in the Fyzee-Rahamin Art Gallery. His work is also part of collections in Tate Britain and the Manchester City Art Gallery. After looking at beautiful slides of Fyzee-Rahamin’s work at the session, one hopes that more will be written about his work. It certainly deserves more attention from the public and press.
After looking at beautiful slides of Fyzee-Rahamin’s work at the session, one hopes that more will be written about his work
4. Alexandra Pringle’s Enlightening Publishing Workshop
Editor-in-chief of Bloomsbury Publishing, Alexandra Pringle’s workshop made for an engaging, vivifying session. Her authors at Bloomsbury have included Margaret Atwood, Elizabeth Gilbert, Jhumpa Lahiri, Colum McCann, Ann Patchett, George Saunders, Kamila Shamsie, Patti Smith, Kate Summerscale and Barbara Trapido among others.
Her advice for emerging writers focused on the importance of finding community and of how to create visibility for one’s work via social media. When talking about some of her successes, she recalled reading a young Kamila Shamsie’s work, and of finding a thread of hidden ‘magic’ there. She also spoke of seeing a spark in Elizabeth Gilbert’s debut work and of how other publishers couldn’t see it at the time. Pringle’s session was full of nuggets of wisdom, both sensible and bracing.