Date: Tue, 2013/01/29 – 6:30pm
Alliance Française de Delhi, Institut Français en Inde and
The French Embassy in India
Writers, Etc. – Session 19
Tahar Ben Jelloun & Kenizé Mourad
in conversation with
Dr. Dileep Padgaonkar
Tuesday, 29th January 2013, 6.30pm
M. L. Bhartia Auditorium, Alliance française de Delhi, 72 Lodi Estate, New Delhi 110003
Writers, Etc is our literary platform: a space where the written word gets primacy, where written ideas and their practitioners can interact with each other and the general public, coming together to ask pertinent questions and seek their answers: what role does literature play in contemporary societies? How do writers see their responsibilities vis-à-vis the public and, turning that over, how do we see writers? How has the written word adapted to its place among the growing pantheon of varied and addictive forms of cultural transmission? The aim is to encourage a discovery, unencumbered by genre, of all the written oeuvres, ranging from living legends to new and emerging talent.
For our nineteenth session we invite the renowned French authors Tahar Ben Jalloun & Kenizé Mourad who’ll be in conversation with Dileep Padgaonkar.
Born in Morocco in 1944, Tahar ben Jelloun is one of France’s most celebrated writers. His first novel, Harrouda, was published in 1973. Since then, he has written numerous novels, short stories, poetry, and essays. He is perhaps best known for his trilogy about the life of Ahmed/Zahra, a girl whose father, desperate for a male heir, raises her as a boy: The Sand Child (1985: a best-seller in France); The Sacred Night (1987: for which he received the prestigious French literary prize, the Goncourt, making him the first Maghreb author to do so); and The Wrong Night (1997).Some of his other novels include Corruption (1994; winner of the Prix Méditerranée in 1995), the best-seller Racism Explained to My Daughter (1998), This Blinding Absence of Light (2001; winner of the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award in 2005), and The Last Friend (2004). Among the other notable awards he has received are the Prix Nouredine Aba (2004) and the Prix Ulysse (2006), both awarded for his lifetime work. His novels are critical of many aspects of society and deal with issues such as racism and the kind of state and religious repression he experienced in his home country. He does not object to “Islam in terms of a beautiful culture and great civilisation”, but is against those who “use Islam in order to control women and children”. In his novels ben Jelloun often adopts the perspective of female protagonists, in order to shed critical light on gender relations.Ben Jelloun’s other well-know works published by Gallimard include: Leaving Tangier (2005) and A Palace in the Old Village (2009). Gallimard also published his latest novel Marital Bliss in September 2012.The author now lives in Paris and regularly contributes articles and reviews to Le Monde, La Repubblica, El País, and Panorama.
Kenizé Mourad was born in 1940 in Paris. She studied sociology and psychology at Sorbonne before entering journalism. She has worked as a freelance for various newspapers including Ouest France, Les Nouvelles d’Alsace, Le Monde Diplomatique, and for radio programs at France Culture. But she made most of her career in Le Nouvel Observateur, from 1970 to 1983, covering the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent. Her first novel De la part de la princesse morte (Robert Laffont, 1987) won the Prix Anaïs Ségalas by the Académie française and the Prix des lectrices by Elle and has been translated into 34 languages. Other popular books by her include a novel Le Jardin de Badalpour (Fayard, 1998), a book on the Israeli- Palestinian question Le parfum de notre terre : Voix de Palestine et d’Israël (Robert Laffont, 2003) and Dans la ville d’or et d’argent (Robert Laffont, 2010). In 2012, the French government named her “Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Letters”. The English translation of her latest historical novel is entitled In the City of Gold and Silver and will be published in January 2013 by Full Circle. Kenizé Mourad will tour in India on the occasion of the publication of this book.
Dileep Padgaonkar, Born in Pune, India, in May 1944, Dileep Padgaonkar matriculated from St. Vincent’s High School and graduated from Fergusson College, two leading educational institutions in the city. After acquiring a B.A. degree in Political Science and German as his main subjects, he proceeded to Paris where he first obtained a diploma from the French Institute of Higher Cinematographic Studies and later a doctorate in human sciences from the University of Paris – Sorbonne.
Three months later, in October 1968, he was appointed Paris correspondent of The Times of India. In 1973 he returned to India and served as an assistant editor of TOI in Mumbai and Delhi.
In 1978 he joined Unesco as its Asia-Pacific Information Officer in Bangkok. Two years later he was promoted as Deputy Director of Unesco’s Office of Public Information at its headquarters in Paris and still later as its Director.
Mr. Padgaonkar rejoined The Times of India in 1986 as its Executive Editor. In 1988 he was appointed the paper’s Editor. He served in the latter position for six years.
In 1994 he set up his own multi-media company – Asia-Pacific Communications Associates – and was its Chairman until 2009. In between he had a brief stint as Editor of the Gulf Today daily newspaper in Sharjah, UAE, before coming back to the Times Group as TOI’s Executive Managing Editor.
He has been a member of the National Commission for Minorities and the Chairman of the Group of Interlocutors for Jammu & Kashmir appointed by the Union government.
In November 2012 he relocated to Pune where he is the R.K. Laxman Chair Professor at the Symbiosis International University and the Chairman of the Programmes Committee of the Pune International Centre. He continues his association with the Times of India as a Consulting Editor. A prolific columnist and TV commentator, Mr. Padgaonkar has edited and authored several publications, including one on the Italian film director Roberto Rossellini that received much critical acclaim in India and abroad. He is the recipient of the Legion d’honneur, France’s highest civilian award.