Denied visa by India, Pakistani author releases book on Skype


She was originally scheduled to release her debut book ‘Ashes,Wine and Dust’ during a literary festival in India but Indian authorities did not grant her a visa.

Unfazed, the Pakistani author Kanza Javed, attended the Kumaon Literary Festival to release her book over a Skype session on Sunday.

Speaking to a full house over Skype session, the 24-year-old debutant said she is moved by the gesture. “I am touched,” she said as festival director Sumant Batra released her “Ashes, Wine and Dust”.

“We are delighted to have Kanza Javed on Skype though we are disappointed that she is not here. However, we are going ahead with the release of her maiden book,” said Batra.

Set in Lahore and Wahington, the book deals with three stages of the life of the young protagonist Mariam, said Javed. “Ashes is about the protagonist’s childhood and Wine is all about her adulthood. The third part, Dust is about the displacements she went through,” she added.

Javed says her work also deals with loss, love and the Partition. The 15-minute-long session was moderated by Aanchal Malhotra, of Tara, the publishers.

Javed said that most of her story is set in Lahore as she loved the city where she was brought up.” The book talks about new Lahore and old Lahore. I grew up in old Lahore with my grandmom and new Lahore is more cosmopolitan and wider,” said Javed, who is the youngest and the first Pakistan author to be shortlisted for the prestigious Tabor Jones South Asian prize.

Batra said that he had done his best to avail visa for the author. “We have done the best to facilitate her visa. However, it’s the discretion of the government and the Indian High Commission to grant the visa,” he said.

Meanwhile, other participants from Pakistan, journalist Asif Noorani and Ameena Saiyid, founder of Karachi and Islamabad literary festivals were granted visas without any hindrance. Terming the incident as unfortunate, Noorani said that he has never faced any hurdles in his 24 visits to India.

He regretted that despite the people of both countries sharing a warm relationship, it is the politicians who are resorting to such acts. “I was always welcomed with great warmth in India. It’s the fringe elements who create troubles,” he said.

Noorani said artists in Pakistan were upset over cancellation of ghazal singer Ghulam Ali’s concerts in Mumbai and Pune and the attack on Sudheendra Kulkarni ahead of a book release function of former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri.