The first event of the Halqa-e-Danish Ham-`asr Urdū Afsānā series took place on September 26, 2019. The series is being organized by the Gurmani Centre for Languages and Literature to celebrate contemporary Urdu short-story writers, and will continue throughout the fall semester. The guest for the first session was Bilal Hassan Minto, a Lahore-based lawyer, film-maker, and short-story writer. Minto has worked on four art house films — World Ka Centre, Javaid Shampoo, Kāli Shalwār, and Safar— and has published a short story collection titled Model Town (2015) . The discussion focused primarily on this collection comprising of stories set in the titular town in Lahore, where the author grew up.
Bilal Tanweer, the co-director of the Gurmani Center, asked Minto a number of questions regarding his literary influences, writing process, and artistic choices. The author talked about his choice of narrator, his writing process, and the politics of language in storytelling. He also talked about the various film projects he has undertaken over the years and possible future ventures into the audio visual medium.
The two hour session was punctuated by the author’s reading of excerpts from his short stories “failure”, “doctor walter” and “kīṛa”. After the last of these excerpts had been read, the floor was opened for questions to the students attending the talk. Tea was also served later, and the audience had a chance to get their copies of Model Town signed by the author.