Second edition of ‘The Aleph Review’ launched in Lahore

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LAHORE: The second edition of the English literary anthology, The Aleph Review, was launched on Sunday in a large yet intimate gathering on Tufail Road in Cantonment, Lahore.

The event was attended by a number of prominent guests including many of the anthology’s contributors, who participated in candid conversation on a small stage set up at the venue, discussing their particular contributions to the anthology and the thinking process behind their work.

A visibly excited Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Mehwish Amin welcomed the guests and thanked her team including Associate Editor Ilona Yusuf, Contributing Editor Afshan Shafi, Sana Hassan and Hassan Tahir.

“Aleph turns two today” she said before going on to thank her sponsors, naming Hina Babar and one anonymous sponsor for their generous support.

An anthology of English poetry and prose, this year’s Aleph Review also prominently features the work of a number of young and upcoming artists. The inaugural edition, which had been dedicated to the late great ‘father of the Pakistani idiom’ Taufiq Rafat, had also contained some works of art but it had been there sparingly and had a more complimentary presence than anything else.

The Aleph team seems to have stepped up their game this year, with art taking a significant role. A significant example is that the anthology’s cover is a painting by Rukhe Neelofur who was one of the first to speak in front of the crowd. According to the artist and the editorial board, the cover painting reflects the different themes explored on the inside of the anthology, especially that of otherisation and exploring ‘the other.’

The original canvas of the title painting was displayed on an easel at the venue and proved to be a big hit with the attendees.

Another one of the speakers was veteran journalist Ahmed Rashid, who talked about two of his poems which made it into the review, which had originally been written by him in 1968 aged 19, in the time when English literature was thriving in Pakistan under the guardianship of people such as Taufiq Umar and Kaleem Omar.

Others to speak included Contributing Editor Afshan Shafi, who discussed her self-labeled modernist poetry much to the delight of the crowd. Afshan was followed by novelist and translator Musharraf Ali Farooqi who was accompanied by Shahnaz Ajazudin, both of whom had done translation work for the Aleph Review this year.

The two were lead in the conversation by the lively Mina, who later drove the discussion between the other translator Bilal Tanweer and a very well received one-on-one with travel writer Salman Rashid.

The day ended with a video compilation of writers reading some of their work in different locations, which went down very well with the attendees, before the crowd broke apart for coffee and conversation.

Copies of The Aleph Review were on sale at the launch and are expected to hit the shelves of major bookshops in the city from Monday (tomorrow).