In a black leather jacket and black trousers, Ali Sethi spoke as theatrically as any Bollywood star. The 26-year-old novelist from Lahore declared thunderously: “It’s difficult writing a novel on a country that is so extremely divided on class, gender and urban-rural lines.”
On the panel, ‘Coming of Age’, novelist Esther Freud, short story writer Jaspreet Singh and Sethi talked about their first works and dwelled on “childhood influences.” Sethi also read from his novel, The Wish Maker. He wants to attend Kashmiri writer Basharat Peer’s session. “I’ve grown up listening to the Lashkar-e-Taiba perspective on Kashmir. Now I want the story from a Kashmiri’s perspective.”
Five years ago, Sethi started learning Hindustani classical music from his neighbour ghazal singer Farida Khannum. Later in the festival, he’ll be singing some verses of the Urdu poet Faiz.