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Press Release: Miscellaneous Announcements
South Asian Literature Festival Ends On A High – Sales Up By A Third

Posted at 10:29AM Thursday 15 Nov 2012

Wednesday 14th November 2012



New writing takes centre-stage at Bush Theatre opening weekend

LONDON - The 2012 South Asian Literature Festival finished on a high last weekend with more than 900 people attending two sell-out events at the British Library on Friday, and more than 300 parents and children crowding into Diwali storytelling sessions at Dishoom Restaurants, rounding off a busier-than-expected ten days of discussion and debate across London.

Featuring the work of writers including Tishani Doshi, Nadeem Aslam, Marina Warner, Neel Mukherjee, Moni Mohsin, Michael Wood and Sarfraz Manzoor, the festival saw a record audience of more than 6000 people through the doors (a third up on 2011), in 50 events featuring more than 100 authors and artists appearing.

Highlights of the 2012 South Asian Literature Festival included a moving discussion about the contribution of Ugandan Asians to British society featuring Giles Foden and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, as well as the Festival closing party which saw the British Library converted into a 'Mughal Palace', as part of the major new Mughal Empire exhibition which opened the same day. The occasion saw a sell-out discussion on the Mughals with John Keay and Susan Stronge among the heavyweight panelists, followed by the Palace party with dancers, Delhi street food, henna and more than 700 festival-goers packed into the library's foyer, prompting one guest to joke it was 'busier than Delhi.

The build-up to the festival also saw the introduction of the South Asian Reading Campaign in October, whereby 16 author, poetry and storytelling events took place with a total reach of more than 1300 students at 10 primary and secondary schools across London. With the generous support of publishers and the Foyle Foundation, 500 books of 13 different titles were given for free to school pupils.

Festival Directors, Jon Slack and Bhavit Mehta said, "We are absolutely thrilled with how the third South Asian Literature Festival has gone. Watching authors, journalists, scholars and performers interact with audiences on the ideas and stories that connect them – often in ways that do not expect – to South Asia has been very satisfying, and of course it's been great to see our ticket sales rise for the third year running. We've been able to stretch our very limited resources much further through key venue partnerships (with British Library, Bush Theatre, Commonwealth Club and Dishoom Restaurants), which also affords us the chance to reach a genuinely unique mix of audiences for a literary festival.

"We would like to thank everyone who participated, supported and volunteered for us, and are already looking ahead to the possibilities for 2013."

Other highlights included:

•Nadeem Aslam, Betty Trask winner and author of forthcoming novel The Blind Man's Garden, revealed that he blindfolded himself for one week, every year for three years to help understand the reality of his blind central character.

•Sarfraz Manzoor closed the opening weekend at the Bush Theatre with an honest and moving tour through his life's ups and downs, where the full extent of Bruce Springsteen's role in his life – in matters of love, religion and ambition, was laid bare.

•Anne De Courcy gave a sell-out talk on her latest book The Fishing Fleet at the Royal Over-Seas League – an institution that was coincidentally founded by her grandfather, it was revealed on the night.

New writing takes centre-stage at opening weekend

The festival staged a number of key new writing events at the Bush Theatre, a venue fittingly renowned as the seedbed for the best new writers in British theatre. The events were infused with a visceral energy and also some of the most popular. Highlights included:

•The launch of new anthology of writing from Bangladesh titled Lifelines, described by award-winning author Elif Shafak as 'what women from Muslim countries should be writing about'. The event included a discussion between Bidisha, Salil Tripathi and editor Farah Ghuznavi beamed in direct from Dhaka via Skype

•The Festival also launched Five Degrees, a new anthology showcasing fresh, highly-praised writing selected by The Asian Writer, with eight of the anthology's dozen writers discussing their work.

•The Festival hosted three events in partnership with Tamasha: Elements - seven short but witty, moving and sometimes shocking theatrical pieces in development; When Spring Comes – a thirty-minute piece charting 40 years in the life of a couple fleeing east Africa for London in the early 70s; and Different is Dangerous, 15 minutes of cutting verbatim theatre set in Leeds

The 2012 Festival was the third annual South Asian Literature Festival to be run in the capital, and was preceded by a series of pre-Festival events with Mark Tully, Madhur Jaffrey, Samit Basu, Hardeep Singh Kohli and Amruta Patil. The Festival will return in Autumn 2013.

- ENDS -

The Directors of the South Asian Literature Festival are available for comment.

Images of the Festival are attached to this email are available for use. Credit in the file name.

For press enquiries please contact Sunil Chauhan at E/ T/ 07939017588 or Harrison Kelly at E/

Notes to Editors

About The South Asian Literary Festival

The South Asian Literature Festival is a celebration of the language, culture and literary heritage of South Asia, and is produced annually by Amphora Arts. South Asian countries within the festival's remit include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. In 2010, SALF debuted with 35 events and more than 70 speakers across 2-weeks, visiting performing arts venues in London, Leicester and Brighton, and building links with local communities through schools and libraries. In 2011, the Festival expanded with more than 80 speakers and artists in 50 events across the capital and in selected UK cities, attracting around 4,500 visitors

About Amphora Arts

The South Asian Literature Festival is produced by Amphora Arts, a not-for-profit organisation, founded by Jon Slack and Bhavit Mehta in 2009. Amphora also produces the South Asian Reading Campaign as well as a range of other arts initiatives in and around London.

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