Lahore Literary Festival full day

28Oct_Lahore Lit Festival

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The acclaimed Lahore Literary Festival comes to the British Library for its second London edition

This event is now sold out but many of the panels and will be available to watch live online at this link.

The day concludes with an evening performance by the acclaimed Ghazal singer Tina Sani, best known for her ghazal and nazm songs, ticketed separately

09.00 Doors open and registration

09.30 ​Welcome

09.45 – 10.45 Writing on Pre-Partition Lahore 

Lahore, though geographically an interior city, has always been a gateway city on strategic trading and pilgrims' routes, influencing different empires. This panel explores the city and its fabric, its thriving Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh communities under the Raj,and before partition.

Prof Ian Talbot (Professor of Modern British history, formerly Head of History at the University of Southampton and author of numerous books on the partition of India and the modern history of Pakistan) and Prof Tahir Kamran (Government College University, Lahore and until recently Allama Iqbal Fellow at the University of Cambridge and Fellow of Wolfson College). Chaired by Prof Yasmin Khan (Associate Professor at University of Oxford and author of, among other titles, The Great Partition: The Making of India and Pakistan).

Please note: Ved Mehta is no longer able to travel to attend the event, but will appear in a short filmed message.

11.00 – 12.00 Never Forget

Partition was the single most cataclysmic event in South Asia in the 20th Century and accounts of the inter-communal horror, displacement, and loss in 1947 are still being uncovered. How should these stories be told?

Kamila Shamsie (author of Home Fire, long listed for the 2017 Man Booker Prize), Mirza Waheed (Kashmiri journalist and author of two novels set in Kashmir) and Tahmima Anam (author of A Golden AgeThe Good Muslim, and The Bones of Grace). Chaired by Razia Iqbal (BBC broadcaster and host of BBC Talking Books) .

11.00 – 12.00 Book Launch: Hybrid Tapestries 

The history and rise of Pakistan's English fiction, memoirs, and poetry. 

Muneeza Shamsie (author of Hybrid Tapestries and bibliographer, Pakistan, for the Journal of Commonwealth Literature) and Aamer Hussein (author of several short-story collections and a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature). Chaired by Prof Amina Yaqin (Chair of the Centre for Contemporary Pakistan, SOAS). 

12.15 – 13.15​​ In the Maze

Our writers discuss food as a leitmotif of cultural exchange and identity, the shared and mutating recipes, the food bazaars and the kitchens of modern Pakistan and India. 
Madhur Jaffrey (the 'queen of curries' and world authority on Indian food, having published over 15 cookbooks over the last 40 years) and Sumayya Usmani (internationally-published Pakistani food writer recognised by BBC Good Food as the UK’s ‘go-to’ expert on Pakistani cuisine). Chaired by Prof Elizabeth Collingham (Associate Fellow at the University of Warwick, and author of A Taste of War; World War II and the Battle for Food and Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors).

12.15 – 13.15 British Library Collections from Pakistan

Nur Sobers-Khan Lead Curator for South Asia introduces an insight into the diverse collection held at the Library, from manuscripts and paintings to photography as well as the fascinating records of the East India Company and India Office. With Sâqib Bâburî (Curator, Persian Manuscripts) on Persian Manuscripts and Painting from Sikh Lahore, Layli Uddin on the 'Two Centuries of Indian Print’ project which she curates, and Penny Brook (Head of India Office Records) on the current Connecting Stories exhibition - revealing the long history of the South Asian presence in Britain.

14.00 – 15.00 Special Guest - Malala Yousafzai

15.15 – 16.15 Life, Love, and Luton

It is ten years since Sarfraz Manzoor published his acclaimed memoir Greetings from Bury Park which described his childhood growing up in eighties Luton as a working class British Pakistani Muslim whose life was changed the day he discovered the music of Bruce Springsteen. In this event, the writer and broadcaster discusses the book and reflects on the changes in his own life and in Britain over the last decade. A word of warning: this session may feature baby photographs. 

15.15 -16.15 Making Lahore Work 

During the Raj, figures such as Sir Ganga Ram had a vision of a flourishing modern city unbound by caste and colour. This is the story of their philanthropy and campaigns to transform Lahore, and a look at the city then and now. 

Featuring Baroness Shreela Flather (the first British-Asian to receive a peerage and the great grand-daughter of Sir Ganga Ram) and Nayyar Ali Dada (acclaimed Pakistani architect and a recipient of the Agha Khan Award for architecture for the iconic Alhamra Arts Center, Lahore). Chaired by Prof Sarah Ansari(Professor of History at Royal Holloway).
16.30 – 17.30 Pakistan at 70

Beyond the chaos and uncertainty of its initial decades, Pakistan marked its 70th anniversary of independence this August showing renewed economic, security and institutional strengths. This panel discussion examines the trajectory the country is taking and its evolving internal and external challenges.

Featuring Amb Maleeha Lodhi (Pakistan's permanent representative to the U.N. and Pakistan's former High Commissioner to UK, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi (former Co-Chair of the Conservative Party), and Christina Lamb (author of Waiting for Allah: Pakistan's Struggle for Democracy, and the chief international correspondent for The Sunday Times). Chaired by Owen Bennett-Jones (author of Pakistan: Eye of the Story).

16.30 – 17.30 Urdu Language's Uncivil Woman 

An exploration of the remarkable Urdu writer Ismat Chughtai (1915 – 91) known for her iconoclasm and feminism which continues to influence many today.

Featuring Arfa Sayeda Zehra (teacher of history and Urdu literature at the Forman Christian College, Lahore. Chaired by Dr Asif Farrukhi (Karachi-based writer, critic, translator, and teacher at the Habib University).

17.45 – 18.45 Crafts Beyond Ornamentation

This session explores the artistic and crafts traditions in South Asia, and how crafts are seen in the context of contemporary art, design, and technology. 

Featuring Prof Ashoke Chatterjee (former executive director, National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad), Adeela Suleman (contemporary artist) and Prof Shehnaz Ismail (one of Pakistan's leading practitioners of crafts and a founding member, Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, Karachi). Chaired by Prof Salima Hashmi (former Principal, National College of the Arts - formerly the Mayo School of Arts, Lahore - and author and editor of several art books).

17.45 – 18.45 Leviathan 

Leviathan is ten-part film conceived and directed by Shezad Dawood; an episodic narrative, which will unfold over the next three years. Dawood displayed his work across two sites in the 2017 Venice Biennale to mark the launch of the first two parts of the project. In dialogue with a wide range of marine biologists, oceanographers, political scientists, neurologists and trauma specialists, Leviathan explores notions of marine welfare, migration and mental health and their possible interconnections. Shezad Dawood (an artist who works across film, painting, and sculpture) talks to Vali Malhouji (London-based curator, and founder of 'Archaeology of the Final Decade').

Room capacities are limited and entry will be strictly on a first come-first-served basis. Programme may be subject to change.

LLF in Lahore, founded by Razi Ahmed, is open and free to public. It is attended by thousands of book lovers annually. Claire Armitstead reported from the LLF in Lahore in the Guardian of an 'atmosphere of determined cheerfulness' chiming 'with the themes of an intelligently programmed festival.' Michael Palin wrote of his experience in Lahore 2017, 'Literary Festivals are ten a penny these days but the Lahore Literary Festival is something special.'

BW Lahore Literary Festival Sponsor     Serena Hotels logo        Pakistan Society logo

Patrons are Lina and Ali Munir and Sujatha and Kashif Zafar 



Name: Lahore Literary Festival full day
Where: Knowledge Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
Show Map      How to get to the Library
When: -
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546