Pakistani lit-fest brings some heavyweights to NYC



The Lahore Literary Festival (LLF), which is held annually in Lahore, Pakistan, is back in town May 6, hosted by the Asia Society in New York.

It brings together U.S. experts like former Ambassador to Pakistan Robin Raphel, and journalist and author Ahmed Rashid, as well as Indian-American oncologist, author and Pulitzer Prize winner Siddhartha Mukherjee.

The festival will explore contemporary Pakistan, and feature artists, writers, and commentators in a bid to present an American audience with a more nuanced view of Pakistan, with discussions on fiction and nonfiction writing, music, arts, popular culture, and politics.

Participants include novelist and opera librettist Mohammed Hanif; MacArthur fellow and contemporary artist Shahzia Sikander; Pulitzer-prize winning composer Du Yun; former Viacom CEO Tom Freston; New York Times literary critic Dwight Garner; and Metropolitan Museum of Art curator Navina Najat Haider.

Founded by Razi Ahmed in 2012, the LLF aims to reclaim Lahore’s cultural significance and influence as a global city under the 12th century Sultanate, the capital of the Mughal Empire under Akbar, and a “cradle of the modern Punjabi civilization” under Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the Asia Society said in a press release.

Lahore has fired the imagination of artists for centuries, inspiring global literature and thought from Milton’s Paradise Lost to Kipling’s Kim to Massenet’s Opera Le Roi de Lahore to John Masters’ Bhowani Junction, the press release noted.

This program is part of Asia Society’s Creative Voices of Muslim Asia initiative.

Rashid, Raphel, Freston, and ABC anchor and reporter Amna Nawaz will be on a panel entitled “Is Fake News Crowding Out Real News? There is also a panel on “Populism and the Global Rise of Strongmen” where panelists include author and op-ed editor at New York Times, Basharat Peer (A Question of Order: India, Turkey and the Return of Strongmen); Bernard Haykel, professor of near eastern studies, Princeton University; Saskia Sassen, co-chair, Committee on Global Thought, Columbia University; and Akbar Noman (moderator), adjunct associate professor of international and public affairs, Columbia University.

There will be several panels on art, music, and fiction writing as well as one of “Notes From the Raga” which will include Mukherjee, as well as performer Ikhlaq Hussain, and translator and oncologist Azra Raza.



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