Raleigh Literary Society, AMU



'City on Fire: A Boyhood in Aligarh' - Book Discussion Panel

Raleigh Literary Society, Department of English, Aligarh Muslim University, organized a panel discussion on the book City on Fire: A Boyhood in Aligarh on 23rd of December, 2023. The book, published by Harper Collins, is the debut work of Mr. Zeyad Masroor Khan, an alumnus of Aligarh Muslim University. The discussion, held in the lawn of the Department of Fine Arts, AMU, began at 12 P.M. The panel that began at 12 noon in the Department of Fine Arts Lawn, consisted of Mr. Zeyad Masroor Khan, the author, Prof. Mohammad Asim Siddiqui, Chairperson, Department of English, AMU and President of Raleigh Literary Society, and Dr Nafis Faizi, Assistant Professor, Department of Community Medicine, AMU. The discussion was moderated by Sharmien Ajmal, Secretary of the Raleigh Literary Society. After an introductory address by Farheen Sahban, the event was kickstarted, revealing insightful highlights about the text as well as its historical context. “It’s very important for literature to come from the minority community and this should not include just Muslims but all disadvantaged communities, that will include the women , that will include Dalits and the people who come from a certain disadvantaged section by class,” said the author. Calling the writing of this book “an act of defiance” against the criminalization and prevailing stereotypes against the minority communities in the country, he iterated that having a voice to tell our own story, as a member of any marginalized community, is a privilege, and acknowledging this privilege is a responsibility on our shoulders. He asked all young writers to start writing about themselves and their history as it is relevant in this age where history is being rewritten, and if they don’t write their history someone else might rewrite it. He believes that every little thing has its own value and it defines us, however, he added, “all of us are more than just our religious identities.” Prof. Asim Siddiqui lauded the book for its candid writing style and original use of language. He described it as a “coming of age book.” Dr Nafis Faizi focused on the crucial informative significance of the book. He stated, “In biography of a place, nothing is allowed to die in a place where storytelling people live.” He added that the times that we are living in now are bizarre, which Tony Morrison called “monumental crudeness” and many such events are present in the book as well which seems “continuous but often interspersed.” The discussion was followed by a question-and-answer session with the audience. Many relevant questions were raised by students and literary enthusiasts, which added to the vibrancy of the session. After the conclusion of the discussion, mementos were conferred upon the panelists by Prof. Mohammad Asim Siddiqui, Prof. Samina Khan, and Prof. Aysha Munira Rasheed. Many hard copies of the book were made available by HarperCollins Publishing House in their book stall set up at the venue itself. Finally, the event wrapped up with the most awaited book signing session.