South Asia Institute
South Asia Institute

Spring 2011 South Asia Seminar Series

"From War Stories to Pulp: Encounters with Bangladeshi Fiction"

Thu, January 27, 2011 | WCH 4.118

3:30 PM - 5:00 PM

Mahmud Rahman
Mahmud Rahman

About the Series

At Home, In the World: South Asia’s Literary Cosmopolities

At the end of the twentieth century, debates about South Asian literature still circulated around two main themes: the problematic "authenticity" of globally marketed Anglophone writing and the putative "provinciality" of writing in the bhasha (or vernacular) languages. But in the last decade, there have been a number of new trends which add new textures to this simplified problematic: the rise of an Anglophone reading public specific to the subcontinent with its own popularly recognized figures, the marketing of bhasha styles in popular western cultural forms, the growing popularity of south Asian writing from outside of India (especially Pakistan and Bangladesh), new opportunities for collaboration between artists in various languages in the subcontinent, the growth of vernacular literary traditions in electronic media, and the new global crisis in publishing which has also contracted certain reading publics. This seminar series will explore the changing social contexts in south Asia and the world that affected reading publics and their relationship to new trends in South Asian writing in many languages. Regular seminars occur on Thursdays at 3:30 pm, preceded by a reception at 3:00 pm, in the Meyerson Conference Room (WCH 4.118).

About the Speaker

Mahmud Rahman was born in Dhaka, in what was then East Pakistan. His writing life began at twelve when he hammered out — with the help of a jerry-rigged Royal typewriter — six carbon copies of a newspaper and pasted them on the walls of his school in old Dhaka. He came of age in the midst of the upsurge of the late sixties that led to the creation of Bangladesh. During the 1971 war, he was a refugee in Calcutta. In his adult life, he has lived in US cities including Boston, Detroit, Providence and Oakland. He has worked as a factory worker, data entry operator, community organizer and database support techie. Since the early nineties his writing focus has shifted largely to fiction. The stories in his first book Killing the Water were mostly completed between 1996 and 2008. During part of that time, he completed an MFA in creative writing from Mills College.

He is currently working on a novel.

Sponsored by: South Asia Institute

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