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Hijra! Enthralling, beautiful and hilarious storytelling…

Hijra! Enthralling, beautiful and hilarious storytelling…

May 11 2016

Poetry and rap, love and longing, hope traducing fear…our correspondent is wowed by Shane Solanki and Bonny Nayyar as Asia House continues its Literature Festival…

By Dimple Pau

IT IS LIKE a fairy tale like no other – told through multiple mediums to engage the senses. Part I and we’re treated to “Glass Scissors” from author Bobby Nayyar, who passionately dictates extracts from his sensitive and deep collection of poetry.

Perfect for anyone in love, not in love, wanting love or hating love. With lines like “nothing more painful than truth over coffee”, his words will melt the coldest heart.

If Bobby is stage one of therapy, reminding us all of old wounds, then Shane Solanki is the healing and uplifting stage.

I am truly ashamed to say before tonight, I had never heard of Shane Solanki. If you haven’t either, I urge you to end your shame too and experience this wonderful talent.

Bobby Nayyar reads from his collection, 'Glass Scissors'

Beginning with his ‘disclosure’ piece, he makes it clear the show is not about hijra’s (known in the subcontinent generally as the third sex, and often transgender), but one character he has created in his fairy tale who happens to be a hijra.

Showing his incredible ability to rap perfect words, with spot on music, and intelligently chosen film pieces, Shane raps to a somewhat conservative audience: “Learn how to shake it and get jiggy with it”.

After this light relief, he begins the story through each chapter, telling the tale of Luna who “likes to eat shaak, roti and macaroni cheese”. She has a tough relationship with her father and leaves home.

On her travels she meets a hijra, who takes Luna under her wing, showing her life as it really is.

Shane Solanki

Empowering, creative, funny and bold, at its heart is a message of women being the future.

Uplifting everyone in the room, Shane tells the audience to love themselves, reminding us that “Mahatma is a shorty” and there’s nothing wrong with him.

Despite it currently being a work in progress with a rough ending, this has the potential to be huge.

There are moments within this show still resonating with me, which defines a truly pure piece of art.

Shane Solanki can also be seen later this month in Alchemy, the Southbank Centre Festival celebrating arts from the subcontinent.

We will be running a full preview soon but check here for details of Shane Solanki and Last Mango in Paris’ – ‘Turn poison to medicine‘ on Sunday, May 22 as part of Alchemy, see here please

AVC Rating: ***** out of five

*’Glass Scissors’ by Bobby Nayyar, Limehouse Books, see more detail/buy

The Asia House Bagri Foundation Literature Festival continues until May 18…

Among the highlights for those interested in South Asian aspects of the extravaganza are:

Wednesday, May 11, 6.45pm – ‘The Good Wife’, Writers Ramita Navai, Elif Shafak, and Sharmila Chauhan, discuss changing family mores in Asia, with novelist and Daily Telegraph journalist, Radhika Sanghani, whose debut fiction, “Virgin” attracted huge media attention.
Friday, May 13 , 12.30pm (Lunchtime) ‘Word of Mouth’ – Three authors whose work is about food, travel and recipes get to discuss the culinary cultures of the Asian continent. Hear Caroline Eden, Eleanor Ford and Summaya Usmani.
Wednesday, May 18, 6.45pm ‘Closing Night Special – ‘A Passage Across India’, a celebration of all things Indian from Bollywood to chic clubs of Mumbai and Delhi, author Mahesh Rao discusses both the high and low life in India with Sameer Rahim, literary editor of Prospect magazine, which is one of the partner sponsors to the festival and has a special offer for subscriptions. This particular event is sponsored by travel firm, Greaves India.

For bookings and full details of the festival, please see

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Written by Asian Culture Vulture


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