LAHORE: Speaking at a panel discussion at the Lahore Literary Festival (LLF) on Saturday, Nigerian-American author Teju Cole dubbed United States President Trump ‘Ebola of 2017’. Cole made these remarks while responding to a question about his essay, ‘What it is’, a satirical piece filled with analogies which took a shot at CNN calling Ebola the ‘ISIS of biological agents’. The discussion was titled ‘Who belongs where’, and included Cole and British Pakistani writer Mohsin Hamid. The discussion revolved around the ideas of identity, racism, tolerance and how cities attempt to solve the problem of getting people with multiple identities to live in one space. One of the major points of discussion was how in today’s world, the international media portrays the abnormalities of every country. Cole was of the opinion that the images being portrayed by the international media had forced people within the country to view each other as abnormal. But upon encountering each other, he continued, these abnormalities began to fall apart. When asked about his approach towards writing about a certain city or people, Cole said that his approach was similar to that of a detective. “Before writing, I ask, what do I know so far?” Cole said, adding that how he approaches his subjects is based on what he knows about them. Mohsin Hamid talked about the response of writers writing about a world plagued by the predicament of intolerance. He said, “We must write with hope. Now is not the time for hopelessness. This is not the time to be nostalgic, as in false memories of the past. Nostalgia gave us Trump, nostalgia gave us Brexit.” Towards the end of the discussion, responding to a question about dealing with stereotyping in the West, Teju Cole said that even though the subaltern – suppressed and oppressed classes – are obsessed with the question of identity, but white people were more obsessed with it. “White men are really big fans of identity as long as it’s theirs.” Cole also said that his colour did not become a problem for him in his own country. He added, “I did not have to deal with the fact that I am black until I was in the US.” Hamid and Cole’s discussion on identity was a refreshing experience for the audience at a place, which has had always faced the problem of intolerance between people with multiple identities. The talk also offered encouragement to writers in Pakistan whose work is filled with cynicism and hopelessness owing to the prevalent socio-political situation in the country.