Lola Albarn
Literature Live-Moniza Alvi and Nadeem Aslam, Oct 7th 2013

Moniza Alvi and Nadeem Aslam each read a selection of their work at the Martin Harris Centre on the 7th of October 2013; despite both being incredible writers, who have drawn upon their Pakistani heritage to inspire and shape their work, for me, Nadeem and Moniza are worlds apart as writers.
Moniza Alvi read a selection of poems, which delved into a wide range of topics, from fantasising about what her life could have been like in Pakistan, to the brutal rape of a mermaid in the name of ‘human love’; each poem left the audience with a different sensation, with a new perspective on matters such as heritage and death; Moniza’s cheery disposition only worked to emphasise the deep emotions pouring from each poem, through the stark contrast between the writer and the subject.
Nadeem Aslam read a small section from his latest book ‘The Blind Man’s Garden’ focusing on how the first, one page chapter had slowly made its way from 3/4 of the way into the book, to the front, as Nadeem realised that the progression from the broad subject of ‘History’ at the very start of the section, to the intimate, more minute subject of a father and son’s love, summed up some of the key themes in the book. The section of the novel was too short to give a clear and in depth example of the intricate and beautiful style of writing that is found in Nadeem’s work; however it was enough to intrigue the audience and create a desire to read on.
It wasn’t until the Question and Answer session at the end, that the differences between the two writers and their chosen styles became more apparent. One audience member stated that both writers focus on their identities; Moniza believed that when she did write about identity, it was to make her feel comfortable in her own skin and focus on making the idea of identity more fluid; Nadeem stated that his identity was whoever he was with, his social environment shaped his identity. However one similarity that did become very clear, was that both Moniza and Nadeem focused on political, world matters in their literature, although again through different methods; Moniza explained that in poetry, you couldn’t approach subjects as head on, as you can in literature, therefore side paths have to be made.
The audience was able to gain a unique understanding on how both Moniza and Nadeem set about composing their work, drawing upon travels across the world, family stories, such as Moniza’s family tale of partition and even hands-on research, such as Nadeem taping his eyes for three weeks, to experience first-hand what it might feel like to be blind, which turned out to be an incredibly interesting experiences as he learnt that the colour red was associated with touching something hot while he saw stars when he stretched his hand out into the rain.
Overall the event was a delightfully entertaining and intriguing introduction to both writers, showcasing their undeniable talent, despite the short amount of time given to their work during the event.

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