Naila Zahin Ana, writer, blogger and activist from Bangladesh, came to Reykjavik with the ICORN programme in May this year. Today, 6th September, she will discuss the life and work of the American-Bangladeshi writer and blogger Avijit Roy with Sjón, acclaimed Islandic writer and President of Icelandic PEN, at the Absent Author event of The Reykjavík International Literary Festival (RILF)
The Absent Author is an event hosted by the Reykjavik International Literary Festival in honour of an author who has died, been imprisoned, or censored. Avijit Roy, who was murdered in Bangladesh for his secularviews, is the festival’s Absent Author in 2017.
Avijit Roy and several others secular writers, bloggers and publishers have been attacked and hacked to death by fundamentalist groups in Bangladesh since 2013 for their open-minded writings. In 2015 alone, five bloggers and publishers, were attacked and killed, among them Avijit Roy, Washiqur Rahman Babu, Ananta Bijoy Dash, and Niloy Neel. Poet and publisher, Ahmedur Rashid Tutul, scarcely survived an attack in his office in Dakha October 2015. He fled Bangladesh late 2015 and now lives in Skien through the ICORN programme
Naila Zahin Ana
Naila Zahin Ana is herself a young Bangladeshi blogger and social activist. She first began writing on somewhereinblog, the largest Bangla-language blog, at the age of 15, but did not begin pursuing her writing seriously until she became involved in the Shahbag movement. Her writings are concentrated around themes such as gender equality, feminism, atheism, the Jamaat-e-Islami political party, religious fundamentalism, and film reviews.
Ana’s simple, clear style has made her work accessible to a wide audience, but her participation in the protests and her writings on atheism also led to her to being forced out of her university college and suspended from established blogs. Undeterred, Ana continued to write on Facebook and on her personal blog. She continued her social activism, campaigning against sexual violence and on environmental issues. Ana received many threats against her, but she did not take them seriously until five of her fellow bloggers were killed, including her friend Washiqur Rahman Babu.
Naila Zahin Ana will continue her work from from Reykjavik for the next two years.
Born as Sigurjón Birgir Sigurðsson, Sjón is a native Reykjavík citizen known primarily for his poetry and novels, as well as being a successful playwright and children’s author.
A close friend and frequent collaborator with singer Björk, he has written lyrics for a number of her songs, such as Jóga. In 2001, Sjón was also nominated for the 2001 Oscars and Golden Globe, along with Björk and Lars von Trier for the song “I’ve seen it all”.
ICORN in Reykjavik
It was Sjón who took the initiative to include Reykjavik in ICORN, and the municipality of Reykjavik actively embraced the idea. The former Mayor of Reykjavik, Jón Gnarr, signed the agreement between Reykjavik and ICORN in October 2011.
Today, it is the Human Rights Office of Reykjavik that manages the ICORN programme in the city, and Joanna Marcinkowska is the coordinator for the writers and artists hosted by the City of Reykjavik.
Naila Zahin Ana is the third ICORN writer in residence in Reykjavik, after Palestinian writer, journalist and poet Mazen Marouf, who arrived shortly after the agreement was signed and still lives and works in the city; and author, activist and blogger, Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo from Cuba, now a fellow at Washington University in St. Louis.
The Reykjavík International Literary Festival
The Reykjavík International Literary Festival (RILF) takes place September 6-9, at various venues throughout Reykjavík. Founded in 1985, this will be the 13th time RILF takes place, bringing together acclaimed authors from around the globe for readings, talks, and other events.
04. May 2017: Reykjavik.is Landflótta rithöfundur frá Bangladesh fær skjól í Reykjavík