Hanif Kureishi signing copies of his book, <i>The Last Word</i>, on the opening night of the 2014 Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival. Image credit: www.nickcunard.co.uk

Hanif Kureishi signing copies of his book, The Last Word, on the opening night of the 2014 Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival. Image credit: www.nickcunard.co.uk

Between Tuesday 6 May and Wednesday 21 May 2014, Asia House hosted its eighth annual Literature Festival and continued to enthral audiences through a mix of inspiring, thought-provoking and unique events. We were delighted to welcome the Bagri Foundation as title partners, offering us the opportunity to expand our outreach programmes to schools and libraries across the UK.

With the theme, Changing Values across Asia, the Festival kicked off with several exciting pre-Festival events in April. This included an event in partnership with the British Council and London Book Fair Korea Market Focus featuring Man Asia Prize winner Kyung-sook Shin.

Literary superstar Hanif Kureishi officially launched the Festival on 6 May as he discussed his new novel, The Last Word, which had been making waves in literary circles. An animated debate about the nature of the world’s most secretive state – North Korea – took place the following day between former British Ambassador in North Korea and author of Only Beautiful, Please: A British Diplomat in North KoreaJohn Everard, and author of North Korea: State of Paranoia, Paul French.

Other highlights of the Festival included the talk Changing Sexual Mores between Shereen el Feki (Sex and the Citadel)Sally Howard (The Kama Sutra Diaries) and Moni Mohsin. The best of Asian literature was further celebrated as new works by acclaimed Sri Lankan novelist Romesh Gunesekera, one of Granta’s Best of Young British novelists Xiaolu Guo and Pakistani-born Roopa Farooki British Asian humourwere previewed ahead of publication. A look at British Asian humour had the audience roaring with laughter, featuring journalist Sathnam Sanghera, BBC head of comedy Saurabh Kakkar, comedian Shazia Mirza and writer producer of hit TV shows Goodness Gracious MeThe Kumars at Number 42The Office and Citizen KhanAnil Gupta.

A series of fun and family-friendly events complimented the Festival. For example, there was lunchtime cookery with The Vietnamese Market Cookbook authors, tai chi, origami and more.

Joining forces with Penned in the Margins at Rich Mix in East London, the festival programme included The Shroud, a two-man miniature epic about loss, time and the things that connect us, with Siddhartha Bose and Avaes Mohammed.

In addition to the main events in May, the Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival extended its youth engagement programmes with two-day writing workshops and author visits in six London area schools and six others across Newham, Manchester, Leicester and Birmingham. Finally we ran a hugely successful student writing competition.

To find out more about the 2014 Festival, read the press release here.