Three of the writers shortlisted for this year’s prize read from their work. Davis (USA) will read from her Collected Stories. N’Diaye (France) reads from Three Strong Women. Husain (Pakistan) reads from his novel Basti.
Intizar Husain was born before Partition in Uttar Pradesh, India, on 21 December 1925. He emigrated to Pakistan in 1947 and now lives in Lahore.
He gained a Master’s degree in Urdu and another in English literature. An author of short stories and novels, he worked for the Urdu daily, Imroze, and for the Urdu daily Mashriq for many years. He now writes a weekly column for the Karachi-based English language newspaper Dawn.
A chronicler of change, Husain has written five novels and published seven collections of short stories. Only one of his novels is translated into English and there are five volumes of his short stories published in English translations. Naya Gar (The New House) paints a picture of Pakistan during the ten-year dictatorship of General Zia-ul-Haq. Agay Sumandar Hai (Beyond is the Sea) contrasts the spiralling urban violence of contemporary Karachi with a vision of the lost Islamic realm of al-Andalus, in modern Spain. Basti, his 1979 novel, which traces the psychic history of Pakistan through the life of one man, Zakir, has just been republished as one of the New York Review of Books Classics. Keki Daruwalla, writing in The Hindu in 2003, said ‘Intizar Husain’s stories often tread that twilight zone between fable and parable. And the narrative is spun on an oriental loom.’
Marie N’Diaye, born on 4 June 1967, is a French novelist and playwright. Her father, who was Senegalese, returned to Africa when she was a baby, and she was raised by her French mother, a secondary-school science teacher, in a town called Pithiviers, south of Paris. She began writing at the age of 12. Her first novel, Quant au Riche Avenir (Regarding the Rich Future) was published when she was 18 by Jérôme Lindon, who had been Samuel Beckett’s great champion. Rosie Carpe (2001) won the Prix Femina, and Papa Doit Manger (Daddy’s Got To Eat), a play she wrote ten years ago, was only the second play by a woman to be taken into the repertoire of the Comédie Française. Her most recent novel, translated into English as Three Strong Women and published in the summer of 2012, won France’s most respected literary prize, the Prix Goncourt in 2009. Fernanda Eberstadt in the New York Times described it as ‘the poised creation of a novelist unafraid to explore the extremes of human suffering’, and said that N’Diaye is ‘a hypnotic storyteller with an unflinching understanding of the rock-bottom reality of most people’s lives.’
Lydia Davis is an American writer who was born in Massachusetts in 1947 and is now a professor of creative writing at the University at Albany, the capital of New York State. She is best known for two contrasting accomplishments: translating from the French, to great acclaim, Marcel Proust’s complex Du Côté de Chez Swann (Swann’s Way) and Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, and writing short stories, a number of them among the shortest stories ever written. Much of her fiction may be viewed under the heading of philosophy, poetry or short story, and even her longer creations may be as succinct as two or three pages. She has been described by the critic James Wood in his latest collection, The Fun Stuff and Other Essays, as ‘a tempestuous Thomas Bernhard’. Most of all, as Craig Morgan Teicher of the Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote in 2009, the year that Davis’s Collected Stories appeared as a single volume: ‘She is the master of a literary form largely of her own invention.’
Examining writing about the human experience of warfare. Evison discusses her award-winning account of the impact of the death of her young lieutenant son Mark, who had been serving in Afghanistan. Day’s novel Home Fires is a fictional account of two generations of a family dealing with the reality of war and loss. Chaired by Peter Florence and Steve Corry.
The novelist, author of Honour, The Bastard of Istanbul and The Forty Rules of Love develops her mesmerising exploration of writing and identity deriving from her fascination with the silent letter of her Turkish alphabet – the 'Ghost G'.
The former Home Secretary’s marvellous memoir plays out against the background of a vanishing community living in condemned housing. The story moves from post-war austerity in pre-gentrified Notting Hill, through the race riots, school on the Kings Road, Chelsea in the Swinging Sixties, and on to the rock-and-roll years, making a record in Denmark Street and becoming a husband and father while still in his teens.
The Basque Country in the early 1980s was a nation beset by conflict, its economy in ruins. Three decades later and it’s a nation at peace and second only to Luxembourg in Europe’s prosperity stakes. And all this with an equality index on a par with Scandinavia. Come and hear how they did it from the man who led the country from the opening of the Guggenheim to the eve of ETA’s lasting ceasefire. What are the lessons for other countries? You may be surprised… Chaired by Adam Price.
Why, when so many women are involved in reading, writing and publishing books, are female writers so consistently under-represented in prizes and reviews? What can be done about the problem? Join Kamila Shamsie, author of six novels including the 2015 Bailey's Prize shortlisted A God in Every Stone and Orange Prize shortlisted Burnt Shadows and Philip Jones, Editor of The Bookseller to discuss the gender bias in literature as well as some radical solutions as to how to fix it. A National Conversation debate chaired by Chris Gribble (Writers’ Centre Norwich).
Follow the pre-event warm-up and discussion on writerscentrenorwich.org.uk/thenationalconversation.aspx and on Twitter using #NatConv.
The authors attempt to avert a potential global catastrophe by showing that the grounds for war do not exist, that there are no Iranian nuclear weapons, and that Iran would happily come to a table and strike a deal. They argue that the military threats aimed by the West against Iran contravene international law, and argue that Iran is a civilised country and legitimate power across the Middle East. Chaired by Bronwen Maddox.
From castles to coastlines, pit heads to pubs, ruins to rugby clubs. Which is the most important place in Welsh history? Our historians make their pitches. You decide!
In Manning’s My Notorious Life By Madam X the headstrong daughter of Irish immigrants, forced to beg for pennies as a child on the brutal streets of New York City, grows up to become the most successful – and controversial – midwife of her time. The story chimes perfectly with Kate Summerscale’s tale of Victorian scandal and divorce Mrs Robinson’s Disgrace.