Writers, etc.: Tahar Ben Jelloun & Kenizé Mourad in conversation with Dr. Dileep Padgaonkar, 29 January 2013


The Embassy of France in India, Institut français en Inde and
Alliance Française de Delhi present Writers, etc.
Tahar Ben Jelloun & Kenizé Mourad in conversation with Dr. Dileep Padgaonkar
on Tuesday, 29th January 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.

Tahar Ben Jelloun - Born in Morocco in 1944, Tahar Ben Jelloun is one of France’s most celebrated writers. His first novel, Harrouda, was published in 1973. Since then, he has written numerous novels, short stories, poems, and essays. He is perhaps best known for his trilogy on the life of Ahmed/Zahra, a girl whose father, desperate for a male heir, raises her as a boy: The Sand Child (1985: a bestseller in France); The Sacred Night (1987: for which he received the prestigious French literary prize, the Goncourt, making him the first Maghreb author to do so); and The Wrong Night (1997). Some of his other novels include Corruption (1994; winner of the Prix Méditerranée in 1995), the bestseller Racism Explained to My Daughter (1998), This Blinding Absence of Light (2001; winner of the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award in 2005), and The Last Friend (2004). Among the other notable awards he has received are the Prix Nouredine Aba (2004) and the Prix Ulysse (2006), both awarded for his lifetime work. His novels are critical of many aspects of society and deal with issues such as racism and the kind of State and religious repression he experienced in his home country. He does not object to “Islam in terms of a beautiful culture and great civilisation”, but is against those who “use Islam in order to control women and children”. In his novels, Ben Jelloun often adopts the perspective of female protagonists, in order to shed critical light on gender relations. Ben Jelloun’s other well-known works published by Gallimard include Leaving Tangier (2005) and A Palace in the Old Village (2009). Gallimard also published his latest novel Le Bonheur conjugal (“Marital Bliss”) in September 2012. The author now lives in Paris and regularly contributes articles and reviews to Le Monde, La Repubblica, El País, and Panorama.
Tahar Ben Jelloun will be touring three Indian cities from 24th January to 5th February: Jaipur, where he is participating in the DSC Jaipur Literature Festival, Chandigarh and New Delhi.

Kénizé Mourad - Born in Paris, Kénizé Mourad is the daughter of a Turkish princess and an Indian raja. She studied sociology and psychology at Sorbonne before entering journalism. She has freelanced for various newspapers (Ouest France, Les Nouvelles d’Alsace, Le Monde Diplomatique, to name a few), and radio programmes on France Culture. But she made most of her career at Le Nouvel Observateur, (1970 to 1983), covering the Middle East and South Asia. Her first novel, De la part de la princesse morte (Robert Laffont, 1987) won the Prix Anaïs Ségalas of the Académie française and Elle magazine readers’ prize (Prix des lectrices) and has been translated into 34 languages. Other popular books by her include a novel, Le Jardin de Badalpour (Fayard, 1998 ; a book on the Israeli- Palestinian question, Le parfum de notre terre : Voix de Palestine et d’Israël (Robert Laffont, 2003); and Dans la ville d’or et d’argent (Robert Laffont, 2010). In 2012, the French government appointed her “Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres”. She recently became the Patron of ‘L’Inde des Livres’, an annual book fair organized in Paris by ‘Les comptoirs de l’Inde’.
On the occasion of the publication of the English translation of Dans la ville d’or et d’argent (Robert Laffont, 2010), In the City of Gold and Silver, published recently by Full Circle, Kénizé Mourad is touring nine Indian cities from 7th January to 6th February: Bombay, Pune, New Delhi, Calcutta, Hyderabad, Trivandrum, Bangalore, Pondicherry and Lucknow.

Dr Dileep Padgaonkar - Born in Pune, India, in May 1944, Dr Dileep Padgaonkar acquired a Bachelor’s degree, majoring in Political Science and German. Thereafter, he proceeded to Paris, where he first obtained a diploma from the French Institute of Higher Cinematographic Studies and, later, a doctorate in social science from the University of Paris – Sorbonne. Three months later, in October 1968, he was appointed Paris correspondent of The Times of India (TOI). In 1973, he returned to India and served as an assistant editor of TOI in Mumbai and Delhi. In 1978 he joined UNESCO as its Asia-Pacific Information Officer in Bangkok. Two years later, he was promoted as Deputy Director of UNESCO’s Office of Public Information at its headquarters in Paris and, still later, as its Director. Mr Padgaonkar rejoined TOI in 1986 as its Executive Editor. In 1988, he was appointed the paper’s Editor. He served in the latter position for six years. In 1994, he set up his own multi-media company – Asia-Pacific Communications Associates – and was its Chairman until 2009. In between he had a brief stint as Editor of the Gulf Today daily newspaper in Sharjah, UAE, before coming back to the Times Group as TOI’s Executive Managing Editor. He has been a member of the National Commission for Minorities and the Chairman of the Group of Interlocutors for Jammu and Kashmir appointed by the Union government. In November 2012, he relocated to Pune where he is the R.K. Laxman Chair Professor at Symbiosis International University and the Chairman of the Programmes Committee of the Pune International Centre. He continues his association with TOI as a Consulting Editor. A prolific columnist and TV commentator, Dr Padgaonkar has edited and authored several publications, including one on the Italian film director Roberto Rossellini, which received much critical acclaim in India and abroad. He is the recipient of the Legion d’honneur, France’s highest civilian award.

Last modified on 23/01/2013

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