Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival 2017

The Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival returns for 2017 with an exceptional line-up of writers and thinkers from the UK, Asia and the Middle East.

The festival programme reflects the incredible diversity of talent from the UK and Asia

Gender divides, social issues and the human condition are just some of the key topics to expect at the Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival 2017.

Now in its 11th year, the festival welcomes a diverse array of writers and thinkers to Asia House’s London headquarters for a series of literary events between 9th and 26th May 2017.

In addition to the Festival events in May, Asia House will also run several key pre-and post-festival talks in April and June.

Christina Lamb will officially open the festival on 9th May 2017.

One of the UK’s leading foreign correspondents, Lamb is the bestselling author of I Am Malala, written with Malala Yousafzai. In her special talk kicking off the festival, Lamb will discuss the ever-evolving landscape of reporting from overseas.

Celebrating Ethnic Voices


Amidst a multi-cultural backdrop, the 2017 festival programme reflects the incredible diversity of talent from the UK, Asia and the Middle East.

However, rather than simply focus on society’s paradigm of ethnicity in general terms, the festival will also hone in on the unique and revealing voices of British Asian women.

In ‘The Things I Would Tell You: British Muslim Women Write’ talk, four prominent writers will discuss the narrow misconceptions that surround Muslim women living in the UK today.

These talented writers are Egyptian playwright and poet Sabrina Mahfouz, Leila Aboulela, Selma Dabbagh and Samira Shackle. Speaking about the power of the spoken word, the 19th April event will be chaired by literary critic Arifa Akbar.

Part of the Literature Festival features a series of ‘Sin Cities’ talks sponsored by Cockayne Grants for the Arts, a donor-advised fund of the London Community Foundation, with prominent writers from across the Asian continent. On 20th April, ‘Away in Four Indian Cities’ will see the likes of Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay, Preti Taneja and Deborah Smith discuss the vibrancy of place.

Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay is a Bengali author of Panty and is famous for reintroducing ‘hardore sexuality’ into Bengali literature.

Preti Taneja is the British author of Kumkum Malhotra. Her upcoming novel, We That Are Young, takes inspiration from Shakespeare’s King Lear, set in contemporary India.

Bandyopadhyay, Taneja and Smith will be discussing the rich culture and glamour of Mumbai, Kolkata, New Delhi and Kashmir.

Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival 2017

2017 also marks the 70th anniversary of the Partition of India and the creation of Pakistan.

Aamer Hussein (Kahani: Short Stories by Pakistani Women), Mohini Kent (Black Taj) and Radhika Swarup (Where the River Parts) join author and editor Kavita A. Jindal to discuss post-colonial literature and the aftermath of Partition for Indian and Pakistani citizens.

‘The Empire Writes Back’ talk will take place on 10th May 2017.

Author of Maps for Lost Lovers, Nadeem Aslam will also be in conversation with Maya Jaggi on 26th May discussing his new novel The Golden Legend, set in contemporary Pakistan.

In addition to South Asian literature, the festival will also welcome pan-Asian authors and writers to the stage. Some of them are Singaporean writer Choo Waihong, Chinese-British novelist and filmmaker Xiaolu Guo, and Korean-American author Min Jin Lee.

Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival 2017

And taking a short break from the literary discussions, Asia House presents an exclusive night of comedy on 13th May with award-winning comedians Bilal Zafar and Yuriko Kotani.

Here is the full programme for the Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival 2017:

The Things I Would Tell You: British Muslim Women Write
April 19 18:45 – 20:00
Sabrina Mahfouz in conversation with Leila Aboulela, Selma Dabbagh and Samira Shackle and chaired by Arifa Akbar.

Sin Cities: Away in Four Indian Cities
April 20 18.45 – 20.00
Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay and Preti Taneja chaired by Deborah Smith

Aleppo Like You’ve Never Known It
April 24 12:30 – 13:30
Philip Mansel in conversation with Asia House Literature Programme Manager Hande Eagle

The Kingdom of Women
April 24 18:45 – 20:00
Choo Waihong in conversation with Isabel Hilton OBE

Growing up in a Changing China
April 26 18:45 – 20:00
Xiaolu Guo in conversation with Pamela Kember

A Poet is Born: Nikoloz Baratashvili
April 27 18.45 – 20.00
Donald Rayfield

A Present-Day Rubaiyat
May 9 13:45 – 15:00
Ruth Valentine in conversation with Kamin Mohammadi

Opening Night: Christina Lamb
May 9 18:45 – 20:00
Christina Lamb

The Empire Writes Back
May 10 18:45 – 20:00
Aamer Hussein, Mohini Kent and Radhika Swarup chaired by Kavita A. Jindal

A Room for Rumi
May 11 18:45 – 20:00
Elif Shafak

Asian Shadow Puppetry Workshop
May 13 14:00 – 17:00
Lori Hopkins

Sin Cities: Lijia Zhang’s Shenzhen
May 15 18:45 – 20:00
Lijia Zhang in conversation with Jemimah Steinfeld

Sin Cities: Beirut after Dusk
May 16 18:45 – 20:00
Nasri Atallah, Zeina Hashem Beck and Saleem Haddad chaired by Zahra Hankir

An Odyssey Across the Middle East
May 17 18.45 – 20.00
Ece Temelkuran in conversation with Diana Darke

Comedy Night: Laugh Your Socks Off
May 18 19:00 – 21:00
Bilal Zafar and Yuriko Kotani

Reflections on the East Asian 20th Century
May 23 18.45 – 20.00
Min Jin Lee in conversation with Erica Wagner

Sin Cities: Undercover in Pyongyang
May 24 18:45 – 20:00
Suki Kim in conversation with Paul French

The Girl Who Beat ISIS
May 25 18:45 – 20:00
Andrea C. Hoffmann and Diana Darke

“Beauty & Pain in Pakistan”
26 May 18.45 – 20.00
Nadeem Aslam in conversation with Maya Jaggi

A Raindrop in the Ocean: The Life of a Global Adventurer
June 1 18:45 – 20:00
Michael Dobbs-Higginson

Sin Cities: ‘In the Mix’ in Manila
June 6 18:45 – 20:00
Miguel Syjuco in conversation with Phillip Kim

Speaking about the Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival, Literature Programme Manager Hande Eagle says:

“We have put together a rich and diverse literary programme designed for all lovers of the written word in all its shades.”

Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival 2017

Asia House Membership

It is evident that through these dynamic and interactive events, Asia House hopes to address some of the challenging truths that we are faced with in today’s climate.

From concerns of economic stability to the acceptance of free speech to improving diversity in the mainstream, these talks are sure to encourage vibrant debate.

As well as a fantastic line-up of events, Asia House is offering a special Arts Membership for cultural lovers.

Their new spring deal entitles literature fans to one free Asia House Arts Membership (worth up to £30) for an entire year. As a member, you can enjoy 50% off all tickets, as well as a complimentary drink at each event.

To be eligible, you will need to buy three general admission tickets for events at the 2017 Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival. Once purchased, send an email to and start enjoying your year-long Asia House Arts Membership!

Students and festival goers aged 60+ need only buy one ticket to a Festival event to be eligible for this exclusive offer. You can find out more details about this spring deal here.

With so many fascinating events to look forward to, the Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival is truly unmissable.

For more details on specific events and talks, or to book tickets, please visit the Asia House website here.

Aisha is an editor and a creative writer. Her passions include music, theatre, art and reading. Her motto is “Life is too short, so eat dessert first!”

Images courtesy of Asia House

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