Word play between Mumbai and Lahore

This Friday, literary magazine Bombay Review will hold simultaneous events in Mumbai and Lahore to reiterate that literature doesn't respect borders

A literary magazine that started two years ago as a college project with 10 members travelled farther than any of its founders ever imagined. Bombay Review was started in Pune when Kaartikeya Bajpai, founder member, was a student at Symbiosis International University.

Women browse books at the Lahore Literature Festival in February this year. Pic/AFP
Women browse books at the Lahore Literature Festival in February this year. Pic/AFP

Such magazines, one expects, shuts when the founding team drifts after college, but in this case, it expanded as they made the cities they moved to the magazine's new home. In the last two years, they have collaborated with writers and editors in several countries and have readers from South Sudan to Iceland.

Cross border literature
Now, they are taking a big step by crossing a conflicting boundary, holding simultaneous literary events in Lahore and Mumbai under the banner, The India-Pakistan project – 2016. At the Mumbai event, authors Annie Zaidi and Janhavi Acharekar will discuss South Asian writing while Karishma Attari conducts a workshop on writing short stories.

Karishma Attari
Karishma Attari

In Lahore, graphic novelists Haider Ali Jan and Zain Naqvi will discuss graphic novels as a new medium of writing and poet and novelist Kanza Javed will talk about cross-border collaboration through fiction.

The events, Bajpai says, are a part of the Indo-Pak Project which is also the theme of the upcoming edition (May-June) of the magazine, which will be edited by poet and novelist CP Surendran and novelist Anees Salim. "It is based on the idea that literature has the power to go beyond boundaries and in the process break cultural stereotypes and perceptions," he adds.

A collaborator from Pakistan, Zuha Siddiqui, is a lover of the sublime prose of Arundhati Roy.

Kanza Javed
Kanza Javed

"I never thought of her as another, so to speak. Her work, The God of Small Things as well as Listening to Grasshoppers was profound, and most importantly, easy to relate to, signifying that the differences between us are mere constructions. Paper castles," she says.

Along with the other collaborators, Sara Siddiqui and Baneen Fatima in Lahore, she organised the event with much hope.

"In one of her (Roy's) speeches, she spoke about the coming of another world. 'Another world is not only possible; she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.' I can hear her breathing too, sometimes," says Siddiqui. The event, Bajpai hopes, will bring the two countries together by not only sharing their common love for literature but with the realisation that we are more similar than we are different.

On April 22, 5-8 pm
At Somaiya Centre For Lifelong Learning, Fort.
Log on to for registrations and other details

Spreading their literary wings
Twenty one-year old Kartikeya Bajpai, who is pursuing a masters in creative writing from The New School, New York, is the editor-in-chief of the magazine.

Bombay Review editor-in-chief Kartikeya Bajpai and managing editor Huda Merchant
Bombay Review editor-in-chief Kartikeya Bajpai and managing editor Huda Merchant

With a major team shuffle last month, Huda Merchant is now managing editor, Delna Abraham is art director, Ushnav Shroff is fiction editor and Angela DiLella is the cover artist.

Apart from these main roles, there are 10 illustrators and 50 event co-ordinators who work on project basis.

Arundhati Roy's fans in Pakistan
Arundhati Roy. File pic
Pakistan collaborator Zuha Siddiqui finds Arundhati Roy's prose relatable and helps drive home the point where she calls the differences between both countries as 'mere constructions'.

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