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Pakistan Situation: Festival Author Reconsiders

18th December 2007

Media release
Political Situation Forces NZ Arts Festival Author to Reconsider Appearance

Mohsin Hamid, an author to feature at the New Zealand Post Writers and Readers Week, the literary element of the NZ International Arts Festival, has had to reconsider his visit to NZ due to the deteriorating political situation in his native country of Pakistan.

Featuring in the New York Story session, on 12 March 2008, the 2007 Booker-nominee and political journalist has made the decision to remain in Pakistan to write and report on these significant events in his country’s history.

“Given the current crisis here, the upcoming elections, and the outbreak of anarchy, militancy, and violence, I feel very strongly that I should spend every possible day in my country, and not travel abroad for any reason,” Hamid told the Festival.

He will now make his appearance, not in person, at New Zealand Post Writers and Readers Week, but via audio link direct from Pakistan.

The Festival is pleased to announce that Patrick McGrath, a British ex-pat and long time (New York) resident, will join James Meek in person and Hamid from Pakistan, to talk about their 9/11 stories, how the event has changed the world and the literary landscape, and explain why it is they felt compelled to tell 9/11 stories.

Patrick McGrath has written three New York stories in Ghost Town: Tales of Manhattan Then and Now, each of which explores the revolutionary violence that has shaped a nation.

James Meek, the acclaimed British journalist and war correspondent, negotiates the fury and impotence of those covering the war in We Are Now Beginning Our Descent.

They will join Mohsin Hamid, who was resident in New York when the planes hit, and whose main character Changez whispers a love story called The Reluctant Fundamentalist from a café in Lahore.

The NZ International Arts Festival, New Zealand Post Writers and Readers Week will launch the full line-up of stimulating literary events, on 22nd January 2008 in Wellington. Check out www.nzfestival.nzpost.co.nz


New Zealand Post Writers and Readers Week
New York Stories: Writing 9/11, 6pm, Embassy Theatre.
Patrick McGrath, James Meek and via audio link from Pakistan – Mohsin Hamid.


Biography for new author for New Zealand Post Writers and Readers Week: Patrick McGrath

There is perhaps no more promising start for a novelist than a childhood spent at the notorious asylum Broadmoor Hospital, especially if one’s father is the Medical Supervisor. From a boyhood spent collecting snakes with murderers, McGrath has grown up to become one of literature’s most luridly sophisticated voices. McGrath’s is oft described as at the forefront of new or post-modern gothic, and he is certainly at play with the form. His work relies on comedy, subversion and the violating of taboos, not horror. In Asylum (1996) a psychiatrist studies sexual obsession and discovers adultery, in Spider (1990) a madman chillingly tells stories of murder and his mother. In Dr. Haggard's Disease (1994) an ageing doctor retires to a manor to indulge in morphine and memories of lost love.

Synopsis of 2007 Pakistani Crisis
On November 3, 2007, Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf suspended the country’s constitution and assumed emergency powers in his role as both president and army chief. It followed months of political crisis in the capital city of Islamabad, along with worsening security circumstances across the country. Musharraf has sought to justify this “second coup” as being necessary to save Pakistan from Islamist extremism and from a political paralysis he blamed largely on the country’s Supreme Court.

Editors and producers: please note that Mohsin Hamid has requested that he undertakes no interviews during this distressing period.

ENDS

Explore the 2008 Festival programme on
www.nzfestival.nzpost.co.nz

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