Sarfraz Manzoor to deliver inaugural lecture

Mon 25 March, 2024
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It will be 50 years to the day, from when Sarfraz Manzoor arrived in Luton’s Bury Park from Pakistan to when he steps up to give his first lecture at the University of Bedfordshire, an institution he was appointed Chancellor of last summer.

It has felt, says the Chancellor, “like a completely impossible journey to have made.”

At the free-to-attend lecture at the University’s Luton campus – open to the public, as well as staff and students of the University – Sarfraz will talk about his life growing up in the town, illustrated by photos of him and the town. He’ll discuss why he had to leave Luton and why he’s now its biggest fan.

The lecture will also be streamed live.

Register for your free ticket:

'My Luton story: how I came, why I left and why I'm (sort of) back'

Thursday 16 May, 6pm to 7pm

in person or online via a livestream

Sarfraz – who was born in Pakistan and grew up in Luton – has seen critical acclaim for his writing which has often reflected on identity, belonging and the challenges and opportunities of multiculturalism. He gained international recognition when his memoir 'Greetings from Bury Park’, which described his childhood growing up in Luton in a British Pakistani family, was adapted into the 2019 feature film ‘Blinded by the Light’.

At his inaugural lecture, the Chancellor will share his bitter-sweet recollections of growing up in the town in the 1980s and detail why he’s back and championing Luton.

The town has a “resilience and a don’t-count-the-underdog-out spirit”, Sarfraz said in an interview with the Guardian in 2023. “When I was growing up, I was writing Luton off. Now I feel like it’s the next big thing.”

An exhibition in Wardown Park will also mark 50 years since the Chancellor arrived in Luton. In collaboration with the Culture Trust, ‘Luton in 50 Objects’ is a special exhibition that will show the development of Luton and includes several personal objects contributed by the Chancellor, including his mum’s Singer sewing machine.

He said: “I have been reflecting on the journey of my life and of my home town. It is this story, the story of Luton that I want to tell.”

A Q&A session, chaired by the University’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Rebecca Bunting, will follow the lecture. After the event concludes, there will be complimentary drinks and light refreshments, as well as the opportunity for guests to meet with Sarfraz.


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