well read - Asia House Festival of Asian Literature

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The Asia House Festival of Asian Literature – the first and only festival in the UK dedicated to the celebration of pan-Asian writing – runs from May 15 to 30 in London.


Asia House Festival of Asian Literature

This year’s festival explores themes of power and change across Asia – culturally, economically, politically, and socially – and the festival welcomes a number of high profile authors and commentators.

Hardeep Singh Kohliopens the festival with an entertaining and colourful trip along one of South Asia’s longest and oldest roads. In Food of the Grand Trunk Road, Hardeep takes a fascinating look at the food, culture, and traditions that have sprung up along a route that runs from Bengal, across north India, into Pakistan and up to Afghanistan.

For the non-fiction programme, global events of the past year have provided a wealth of topics to discuss, debate, and dissect – and these are reflected in the festival programme, providing an opportunity for audiences to experience Asian and British-Asian culture through literature.

The fiction programme includes Refreshingly Sri Lanka, welcoming three of the country’s best contemporary writers to look at Sri Lankan writing at home and abroad: Romesh Gunesekera, Roshi Fernando and – for his first appearance in the UK – award-winning author Shehan Karunatilaka.

Book reviews

Food of the Grand Trunk Road
By Anirudh Arora and Hardeep Singh Kohli

The Grand Trunk Road is one of South Asia's oldest and longest roads. Food of the Grand Trunk Road is a fascinating look at the food, culture, and traditions that have sprung up along this route. It follows Hardeep Singh Kohli's travels along this age-old route, and recipes are provided by Anirudh Arora, head chef at Moti Mahal in London, who has devoted his career to researching the long-forgotten recipes of rural India.
New Holland Publishers


Stranger Magic
By Marina Warner

The supreme fiction of magical thinking is the Arabian Nights, with its flying carpets, hidden treasure, and sudden revelations. As part of her exploration into the prophetic enchantments of the Nights, Marina Warner retells some of the most wonderful and lesser-known stories. Her narrative reveals that magical thinking governs many aspects of experience, even now; how magic, in the deepest sense, helped to create the modern world, and how profoundly it is still inscribed in the way we think today.
Chatto & Windus


By Shehan Karunatilaka

Retired sportswriter WG Karunasena is dying. He will spend his final months making his wife unhappy, ignoring his son, and tracking down Pradeep S. Mathew, a spin bowler who has mysteriously disappeared and who WG considers 'the greatest cricketer to walk the earth'. On his quest to find this unsung genius, WG uncovers startling truths about Sri Lanka, cricket, and himself. Chinaman is a novel about cricket and Sri Lanka – and the story of modern-day Sri Lanka through its most cherished sport.
Jonathan Cape


Tippoo Sultan's Incredible White Man Eating Tiger Toy-Machine!!!
By Daljit Nagra

The book takes its cue from the 18th century automaton (a tiger savaging a British soldier) in a series of poems that begin at the throat of the old British Empire. From English sonnets to spectacular displays of 'bollyverse' or the tender love songs of the monsoon, the poems take their bearings from cornershops and classrooms, the strange, part-arcadian, part-hellish streets of 'Londonstan', and the places where the north of England collides with the Punjab.
Faber and Faber


By Kim Thúy

In Kim Thúy's Ru we are carried along on an unforgettable journey from a palatial residence in Saigon to a crowded and muddy Malaysian refugee camp, and onward to a new life in Quebec. There, the young girl revels in the chance to be part of the American Dream. As an adult, the waters become rough again: now a mother of two, she must learn to shape her love around the younger boy's autism. Ru is a book that celebrates life in all its wonder.
Clerkenwell Press


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