Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival 2016

MEDIA RELEASE: Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain to open Literature Festival
Media Release


MEDIA RELEASE: Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain to open Literature Festival


Media Release

LONDON UK – Nadiya Hussain, the winner of the BBC’s Great British Bake Off in 2015, will open this year’s Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival with a discussion about integration and identity in the UK. Hussain will be in conversation with journalist Yasmin Alibhai- Brown about her experience of growing up as an Asian in the UK and what it was really like to win the BBC’s Great British Bake Off. Events


with Dutch historian Frank Dikötter, Pulitzer Prize-winning  journalist Mei Fong, Turkish author Elif Şafak and bestselling crime writer Boris Akunin also all feature as part of this year’s programme.

Now in its tenth year, the Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival is the only UK Festival dedicated to pan-Asian writing. From Middle Eastern kitchens and artist studios in Pakistan to protesters in Hong Kong and drug dealers in Myanmar, this year’s Festival has a programme of events to suit all different tastes, interests and persuasions. There will be rebels and radicals, travel writers and history specialists, some great men and plenty of great women, spoken word rappers, short stories aficionados and events for foodies and the culturally curious.

The Festival will run from Wednesday 4 May until Wednesday 18 May, with the majority of events taking place at Asia House’s central London headquarters. A selection of pre and post-Festival events will take place throughout April and May.

There will be a number of books launched at this year’s Festival including The Cultural Revolution, the final volume in Frank Dikötter’s prize-winning and highly acclaimed People’s Trilogy. The book recasts China’s most tumultuous era, the Cultural Revolution, in a wholly new light. British travel writer Caroline Eden will launch her first book Samarkand: A Culinary Journey through Central Asia and Pakistan-born food writer and cookery teacher Sumayya Usmani will take us further east with the launch of her new book Summers Under the Tamarind Tree: Recipes & Memories from Pakistan, which celebrates the heritage and traditions of her home country.

This year’s programme taps into wider discussions around gender and identity with an evening of performance art from London-based spoken word artist Shane Solanki, who will address the topical subject of transgender within Asian communities. A panel of three leading thinkers from Asia, including Elif Şafak, will look at what the emergence of new lifestyles and family dynamics is meaning for women across the continent, in an event chaired by Women’s Editor at the Daily Telegraph Emma Barnett. There will also be an exploration of Pakistan’s dynamic contemporary art scene at which a panel, headed by Pakistani author Kamila Shamsie, will address how socio- political issues are being identified and expressed through art.


Several events will take place outside of the main Festival dates including three talks to mark the 25th anniversary of the  restoration of Georgia’s independence. For these talks a series of authors from Georgia will discuss various aspects of Georgian literature and life in the Caucasus more generally opening a window onto this little-known country. It will kick off with a talk from bestselling crime writer Boris Akunin, who will be in conversation with journalist Boyd Tonkin.

Pulitzer Prize-winning Malaysian-born journalist and writer Mei Fong will introduce her new book One Child, which looks at the ramifications of China’s One Child Policy after the Festival has finished, at the end of May.

Jemimah Steinfeld, Literature Programme Manager, said of this year’s line-up: “Literature has always been one of the best vehicles through which to see the world, to confront stereotypes and to challenge assumptions. At a time when Asia is changing immeasurably, I wanted this year’s Festival to reflect that. A really exciting and dynamic programme has emerged focused around the notion of the alternative voice.”

For more information about the Festival and to see the full programme of events, please visit the Asia House website here. The offcial event hashtag is #AHLitFest. The Asia House Twitter handle is @Asiahouseuk.

For press enquiries, please contact Lucy Tomlinson on or 0207 307 5451.


Asia House is a centre of expertise on Asia. Our mission is to bring the UK and Asia closer through our pioneering events on business, policy and politics, and arts and learning. We are the leading pan-Asian organisation in the UK, having built our reputation on our extensive network, our objectivity and our independence.

The Bagri Foundation is a UK registered charity whose principal aims include the advancement of literature, education and the arts, as well as the appreciation and understanding of Asian cultures. The Foundation runs rich and diverse cultural programmes and collaborates with other organisations to further its own charitable objectives.


The Asia House Bagri Foundation partnership was announced in January 2014 and has enabled Asia House to expand its schools and libraries programmes outside of London and to promote literacy in areas throughout the UK where there are large populations of Asians and British Asians. As part of this year’s Festival, there will be a number of youth engagement programmes including school workshops and a student writing competition. For more information about the partnership, click here.

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