The City and The Writer: Miguel Syjuco, M. Mukundan, Nathalie Handal & Shahad Al Rawi
Date/Time: Sunday 5 February 2023 16:30-17:30
Session No: 286
‘You take delight not in a city’s seven or seventy wonders, but in the answer it gives to a question of yours.’
As illustrated by Italo Calvino, the author of the Italian classic Invisible Cities, there is a human fascination and curiosity in the nature of a city, whether real or imagined, that pushes us to explore its complexities, its beauties, and its daily tragedies.
How does powerful writing immerse us in spaces or places we have never visited? Why do writers build their fictional cities not only as a foundation but also a protagonist in their work? How can they use these surroundings to echo and develop narrative concepts? Join this fascinating panel of writers and explore the city through the written word.
M. Mukundan is one of the most reputed contemporary fiction writers in Kerala. A pioneering writer of Malayalam literature, Mukundan has written 19 novels and eight collections, which have been translated into most of the major Indian languages, English and French. Mukundan’s writing is heavily influenced by Kerala’s socio-political dynamics in the early 1960s. His novel Delhi Gathakal was published in 2010. The novel’s English translation, Delhi: A Soliloquy, won the 2021 JCB Literary Award.
Miguel Syjuco is a Filipino novelist, journalist, and professor at New York University Abu Dhabi. He is the author of Ilustrado (winner of the Man Asian Literary Prize, the Palanca Awards Grand Prize, and other accolades) and I Was the President's Mistress!!. Dr Syjuco has contributed to the world's most respected publications, including as an opinion writer for The International New York Times. He serves on the advisory councils of the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, an arts fellowship in Italy, and the Resilience Fund, a project by the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime to empower communities most threatened by criminality.
Nathalie Handal is the author and editor of 10 books, including Life in a Country Album, winner of the Palestine Book Award, The Republics, the critically acclaimed Poet in Andalucía, Love and Strange Horses, and the bilingual collections Riflessi and La estrella invisible. Her non-fiction has appeared in Vanity Fair, Guernica, the Guardian, the New York Times, the Nation, and the Irish Times, among others. She is professor of literature and creative writing at New York University Abu Dhabi and writes the literary travel column ‘The City and the Writer’ for Words Without Borders magazine.
Shahad Al-Rawi is an Iraqi novelist with a PhD in anthropology. Her first novel, The Baghdad Clock, has been translated into several languages. She won the Edinburgh Prize for First Fiction and was nominated for a Booker Prize. Her second novel, Over the Jumhuriya Bridge, was published in 2020.
As you plan your day at the Festival, please take into consideration that it takes between 30-60 mins to commute between the Intercontinental, Festival City and Mohammed Bin Rashid Library.