Writers, etc.: Mariam Karim-Ahlawat in conversation with Noor Zaheer, 4 April 2013
The Embassy of France in India, Institut français en Inde and
Alliance Française de Delhi present Writers, etc. with Mariam Karim-Ahlawat
on Thursday, 4th April 2013
Writers, Etc. is a cultural event jointly organised by the Book Office of the Embassy of France in India, Institut Français en Inde and the Alliance Française de Delhi. This monthly rendezvous is a platform for literature, a space where the written word gets primacy, where literary ideas and their practitioners can genuinely interact with each other and the general public.
Mariam Karim-Ahlawat is a teacher of French Language and Literature, freelance editor, and a writer of fiction for children and adults. She was born in Lucknow and educated at JNU, New Delhi, and the Sorbonne, Paris. Her first novel, My Little Boat (Penguin India, 2003), was nominated for the IMPAC International Award 2005 and the Hutch Crossword Award. Her second novel, entitled The Street of Mists, was longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize 2009. Her plays, The Betrayal of Selvamary (shortlisted for the Hindu Metro Plus Playwright Award 2010) and Fractals Search for the Real (longlisted for the Hindu Metro Plus Playwright Award 2011) will both be performed in Delhi by the premier theatre group Pierrot’s Troupe. Her children’s musical about street children, A Bagful of Dreams, was performed in Delhi (Nov 10, 2012) to music by well-known author and musician Peggy Mohan. Karim-Ahlawat also writes reviews and articles on literature and has contributed short stories to anthologies such as Siècle 21 (Paris), South Asian Review (University of Pittsburgh), and Our Voice (the PEN International Women Writers Anthology). For over eleven years she wrote a Read Aloud page in the magazine Parenting with her own illustrations, and published her first book of folk and fairy tales for children, Tales Old and New (Harper Collins India, 1994). Since then, she has published a number of children’s books (Tulika Publishers, Chennai) and contributed to anthologies available in several Indian languages. Since 2000, she has been conceiving multimedia designs for children in subjects ranging from Science to Animation (e.g. NIIT, Animaster). She wrote a column on education and social issues for The Times of India Pluses for five years. She has recently completed a project with the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, writing and editing five books for children affected by HIV. These will be distributed free of cost through NGOs working with AIDS and mainstreamed through Vitasta Publishers. She is currently co-authoring a set of four visual books on green living for children for TERI with Mr Bharat Shekhar, and will shortly be working on a ‘Save the Ganga’ project with Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, India.
Noor Zaheer wields a strong feminist pen. Writing in English, Hindi and Urdu, some of her important books include My God is a Woman (SAARC Literary Awards), Mere Hisse ki Roshnai (Delhi Hindi Academy Award), Barh Urraiyye, Ret Par Khoon (fiction), Aaj ke Naam, a biography of well-known Urdu poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Surkh Karavan ke Hamsafar, a travelogue of Pakistan, and Patthar ke Sainik, plays for children. Deeply involved in writing for the stage, she is an active translator and editor. She has translated Peter Shaffer’s Royal Hunt of the Sun and Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire into Urdu for legendary theatre director Ebrahim Alkazi; and adapted M.F. Husain’s autobiography for the stage for Nadira Babbar, and Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus for the National School of Drama. Zaheer has conducted intensive research in the Himalayas on Buddhist performance traditions and oral tribal literature. The outcome of this research, The Dancing Lama, is under publication. Zaheer has received the Times Fellowship, Senior Fellowship of the Culture Ministry, Govt. of India, and Writer in Residence, Sahitya Academy. At present she is translating early women’s writing in Urdu into English for the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts. She was Director of the SAARC Festival of Literature, held in Agra on 10-12 March 2013.