The Telegraph
Wednesday , January 23 , 2013
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KLM authors

Here’s who you’ll meet at the kolkata literary meet, to be held at the book fair from jan 30 to feb 3, in association with the Telegraph. Watch this space for more

He’s the Young Turk of the subcontinent’s literary landscape. The six-foot frame, occasional stubble and boyish smile don’t hurt either. Moving on to more cerebral matters, Ali’s first novel, The Wish Maker, was published by Penguin India in 2009, a family saga set in Lahore.

Born in Lahore in 1984, Ali studied at Harvard University, where he was taught by Amitav Ghosh, who is inaugurating Kolkata Literary Meet (KLM).

Ali writes for a host of publications, including Dawn, The New York Times and The New Yorker. He’s a budding musician too.

At KLM, he will be in conversation with Javed Akhtar and M.A. Farooqi on why Saadat Hassan Manto’s stories still connect with readers from a new century, on January 31. On February 1, he will discuss extremists, moderates and their writings along with Saeed Akhtar Mirza and Azad Essa.

When t2 asked him if he had a Calcutta connection, pat came the enthusiastic email: “I do! My father’s father was the manager of a rubber factory in Calcutta until the Hindu-Muslim riots of 1964, which is when he returned to Lahore for good. My father, uncle and aunt all spent their summer holidays in Calcutta until they were teenagers, and when I was growing up in Lahore, they would tell me fascinating stories about the city of their childhood. I’m also making a documentary film on ghazal singer Farida Khanum, who spent her childhood in the Parsi theatre of Calcutta and has described it to me in vivid detail. So, I have all this Calcutta in my head and I can’t wait to be there!”

Deborah Baker

Deborah Baker will not just bring out various views on jihad and Pakistan at KLM but also engage in some Calcutta-style Coffee House-er adda as part of the Lit Meet.

The author of books like A Blue Hand: The Beats in India and In Extremis: The Life of Laura Riding last wrote on the life of an American woman who converts to Islam, titled The Convert. And like many compelling tales, The Convert is stranger than fiction, at once a gripping story of a life lived on the radical edge and an insightful analysis of the roots of terror. It received rave reviews and became a finalist for the 2011 National Book Award in the US.

At KLM, the author who is married to Amitav Ghosh will discuss the micro and the macro views of jihad and Pakistan with John R. Schmidt, moderated by Ali Sethi, on February 1, and participate in an adda on the golden years of Coffee House with poet Utpal Kumar Basu and author Kunal Basu.

Born in the US and raised in Puerto Rico and New England, Baker attended the University of Virginia and Cambridge University. After working a number of years as an editor and publisher, Baker moved to Calcutta in 1990, where she wrote In Extremis. She has two children and divides her time between Calcutta, Goa and Brooklyn.

Sanjeev Sanyal

An economist, environmentalist and urban theorist, he’s the author of The Indian Renaissance: India’s Rise After a Thousand Years of Decline (2008), and Land of the Seven Rivers: A Brief History of India’s Geography (2012).

Born in Calcutta and an alumnus of St. Xavier’s and St. James’ schools, Sanjeev will be back in the city to discuss rivers, goddesses, history and the challenges of presenting it to the new generation with Michel Danino, on January 31.

A Rhodes scholar and Eisenhower fellow, Sanjeev was named Young Global Leader for 2010 by the World Economic Forum, Davos. But what Sanjeev really can’t wait for, of course, is a taste of the Chinese food at Tangra and to roam around the Boi Mela. Seems like our kinda guy!

Haifa Zangana

She’s one gutsy lady who as a young activist of the Iraqi Communist Party was imprisoned by the Ba’ath regime and came close to being executed. But that did little to deter Haifa Zangana, who was born in Baghdad in 1950. After her release from prison, Haifa continued to pursue her studies in pharmacy and later travelled to Syria, Lebanon and England as a member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation.

As an author, Haifa is most known for Women on a Journey: Between Baghdad and London. She’s also quite the painter, we hear.

She contributes to The Guardian, Red Pepper, Al Ahram Weekly and Al Quds and is a founding member of the International Association of Contemporary Iraqi Studies and a member of the advisory board of the Brussels Tribunal on Iraq.

At KLM, Haifa will discuss women’s writing in unquiet times with Egyptian writer-activist Ahdaf Soueif on February 1. The same day, the two ladies will also be part of a session titled “Evolution of a Revolution”.

All sessions of the Kolkata Literary Meet are open to all, there are no entry passes. For details, check out the KLM page on Facebook