Pakistan is pretending to survive terrorism through literature festivals the ideological state is hardly able to support without cringing. Yet, these are building loyal followers in cities like terror-haunted Karachi, the madrasa-haunted Islamabad, ever-conservative Lahore, with its memories of more pluralist days under the Raj, and old Lyallpur, renamed Faisalabad after a Saudi king, which can’t account for why it doesn’t have a bookshop, despite being the country’s third-largest city.
On February 25, the Lahore Literary Festival (LLF 17), held at Faletti’s Hotel, Lahore, kicked off with a conversation, after a bomb blast that everyone thought was the work of ISIS. Kamila Shamsie, who lives in London and Karachi and is the author of novels like Salt and Saffron, Broken Verses and Burnt Shadows, made British comic writer-actor Michael Palin talk about his Monty Python’s Flying Circus days, which he wrote as he travelled the world looking for something to laugh about.
He mused: “I don’t think comedy and seriousness are incompatible. Comedy is very often a way of confronting the darkest things in life. I love observing human behaviour. Others may see desperation and despair, but I have a highly developed sense of the ridiculous which keeps me from deepest gloom. Having said that, I take the opportunities to pursue my insatiable curiosity very seriously. I’ve made documentaries about artists and I’ve written novels, which I hope will be taken as seriously as they are intended. But if I have a fatal flaw, it’s excessive flippancy.”
Read more at: http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/pakistan-terrorism-urdu-literature-festivals-lahore-literary-festival-llf-17-4564149/
Indian Express, March 11, 2017