Book Excerpts: Being Pakistani; Society, Culture and the Arts
Mirza Hadi Ruswa’s Umrao Jan Ada is an early novel written in Urdu. The novel’s origins itself are of note as the Lucknow based poet Ruswa persuaded Umrao to reveal her life history in several parts. Many critics have inferred that the narrative was perhaps authored by Umrao herself and the forthrightness of the story suggests that she had a huge part in drafting this classic, semi-documentary. Although to treat it as an historical account—or even a semi-historical account—will have to be done with a pinch of salt; it still remains relevant to the authentic portrayal of the nautch girls’ circumstances in that period.
The Salt Doll
Molly Daniels Ramanujan
The Salt Doll is the story of Mira Cheriyan. Taken to Aden to live with her parents, she rebels against them, tries to run away, and is finally sent to school in India. But this iconoclast cannot adapt to the disciplining environment of a single school: “At the first boarding school, the nuns wanted us to be truthful. If we told lies, they powdered quinine and rubbed it on our tongues.”.
Panch Novelette – ۵ ناولٹ
Aziz Ahmed – عزیز احمد
Recently, a volume containing five novelettes has been published by Sang-e-Meel Publishers under the title 5 Novelettes; these five pieces of fiction may be taken as five drops from an ocean of writing by the prolific author Aziz Ahmad.
The Bones of Grace
The Bones of Grace marks the end of a loose trilogy that Tahmima Anam began with A Golden Age (2007). That book distinguished her as a young novelist writing resonantly about the ruptures of war. Her research into the Bangladeshi liberation war of 1971 and its emotional aftershocks included testimonies from her own freedom-fighter parents.
Ten years after Iqbal is born in Sialkot in undivided India, a girl named Atiya is born thousands of miles away in Istanbul. Just as Iqbal’s father ran a business in Sialkot, Atiya’s father Hasan Ali Fyzee (1827–1903) ran a business in that Turkish metropolis
TWENTY years ago, when New Yorkers asked me where I was from, all I’d say is that I grew up in Britain. Mentioning that I was born in Bangladesh drew only more questions, and New Yorkers simply wanted confirmation of what was to them the distinctive cultural marker: my British accent.
My hands dissolve in water. / My body wastes away. / The air drifts past and through me / Each night and every day. // Bright darkness is my comfort, / Dark daylight is my friend, / And even I can’t reckon / Where I subsist or end.” The poem Bright Darkness adorns the back jacket of Vikram Seth’s new slim volume of poetry, Summer Requiem.
Like many of you reading this, I think and read and write in English, even as I often speak in everyday, colloquial Urdu. The last time I attempted to write literary (or indeed any other type of) Urdu was over a decade and a half ago.
“Sometimes people think I have been dead for a while and I encourage that impression because then I don’t have to take their phone calls or make excuses for not accepting their invitations to preside over literary events,”
About half-way through Anis Shivani’s rambling, open, generous novel, Karachi Raj, a photographer named Tipu appears at the home of Claire, an American anthropologist working in the huge slum referred to as “the Basti”.
Flood of Fire is the gigantic third novel in Amitav Ghosh’s extraordinary Ibis trilogy, a story of the Opium Wars told from the perspective of Indian and western participants, with a glance to the Chinese side, too
Political novels are not every body’s cup of tea. For me, being acquainted with the history of the country the story is set in is a prerequisite, as is a feeling of “connection” with the peoples around whom the political drama unfolds
This first novel by prodigiously talented Ghalib Islam, a graduate of the University of Toronto’s creative writing program, threatens on too many pages and in too many ways to bury its extravagant brilliance beneath the ruins of its over-elaborated architecture.
In his latest work, Shamsur Rahman Faruqi brilliantly spins stories of 18th- and 19th-century Urdu literati.A RICH and lovingly crafted tapestry of longish tales, critic-turned-novelist Shamsur Rahman Faruqi’s latest book, The Sun That Rose From the Earth, is hefty, 600-odd pages of a connected narrative,
دلی جو اک شہر تھا عالم میں انتخاب
رہتے تھے جہاں منتخب ہی روزگار کے
اس کو فلک نے لوٹ کے ویران کر دیا
ہم رہنے والے ہیں اسی اجڑے دیار کے
This poignantly beautiful poem by Mir Taqi Mir symbolizes Delhi and for me is at the heart of the book by Raza Rumi as he lovingly traces the rise and fall of Delhi in his book “Delhi by Heart”.
The aim of this book is to trace the birth, development, and decline of the Progressive Writers’ Movement (PWM) in the context of Urdu, and study the reasons thereof. This study begins not with the first All-India Progressive Writers’ Conference in April 1936
In his debut novel, Ali Akbar Natiq makes political choices that are new, less politically correct and therefore daring.
Staying within his familiar eastern/central Punjab’s rural locale, where most of his earlier short stories reside, Ali Akbar Natiq’s debut novel Naulakhi Kothi is like a broad sweeping statement on the working of the Raj
Set in an unnamed Pakistani city shortly after Partition, “Between Clay And Dust” unravels the lives of Ustad Ramzi, one of the greatest wrestlers of the land, who is now old and warmed only by the memories of his past, and the equally renowned Gohar Jan, a courtesan whose kotha once welcomed lords of the land
Before his death in July 2009, KK Aziz had accomplished one mission that he had set for himself, i.e. to write about the Lahore Coffee House, the glorious nursery of ideas. Luckily, despite his failing health, Aziz finished a draft that was meant to be a shining part of his autobiographical kaleidoscope.
How To Get Filthy Rich In Rising Asia, published in 2013, shows twelve simple steps that one must follow in order climb out of poverty, and become wealthy.
The protagonist is a boy who is addressed as “you” throughout the book.
Ashes, Wine and Dust
Ashes, Wine and Dust is the debut novel of Kanza Javed, which was shortlisted for Tibor Jones South Asia Prize 2013, making her the youngest and the only Pakistani writer nominated for the prize that year.
Set in Lahore and Washington DC, Ashes, Wine and Dust is a journey of a young girl, Mariam
Dozakhnama: Conversation in Hell
Translated (from the Bengali) by Arunava Sinha
When two literary giants- Mirza Ghalib, the quintessential classical Urdu and Persian poet of the Mughal era and Saadat Hasan Manto, a controversial short story writer of the 20th Century start a conversation, what follows is an unfolding of a history of a country that has withstood all seasons of change, years of colonial rule, partition and war
The tragedy of Europe today, Mohsin Hamid has suggested in his essays and journalism, is an inability to articulate a desirable future. Whether in Discontent and its Civilizations, his collected dispatches from New York, London and Lahore (the three cities he has called home), or his reflections on Britain’s response to refugees, he sees modern nation states as mired in an illusory nostalgia that forgets an ancient history of human wandering and scattering, of border-crossing and diaspora.
To Be with Her
Syed Afzal Haider
Syed Afzal Haider’s debut novel, To Be With Her, traces the journey of a young man perpetually on the move: from India to Pakistan as a young child during the partition; to Stillwater, Oklahoma, for college; then to Chicago for work; and, finally, home again, where Ramzan Pervez Malik, or Rama, must decide between old love and new.
Surkh Salam: Communist Politics and Class Activism in Pakistan 1947-1972
Kamran Asdar Ali
In a meticulously researched study, Professor Kamran Asdar Ali has presented a history of the Communist Party of Pakistan (CPP) from its birth in 1948 to its being banned in 1954, barely six years later. In his book titled Surkh Salam/Communism in Pakistan he also covers the party’s influence on the Progressive Writers Association (PWA) and the labour movement
ہم نے ترکی، اطالیہ، ہسپانیہ، یونان، اور دیگر ممالک میں اپنے دوستوں کو ٹیلی فون پر سالِ نو کی مبارک باد دی – گفتگو کے اختمام پراطالیہ سے ہماری دوست نے “آری ویدر چی” اور ترکی سے ہمارے دوست اور ان کی بیگم نے “گُلے گُلے” کہا – اسی طرح دوسرے دوستوں اپنی اپنی زبان میں ویسے ہی الوداع کیا جیسے وه پہلے ہی کرتے آے تھے
ہم نے جب کراچی فون کیا تو بات چیت کے اختمام پر وہاں سے “ﷲ حافظ” کی آواز آئی۔
احمد مشتاق کا تعلق یوں تو پچھلی صدی کی پانچویں دہائی میں ابھرنے والی اس نسل سے ہے جس کے شعرا نے اردو شاعری اور بالخصوص اردو غزل کو ایک نیا اور بہت خوبصورت موڑ دیا ہے ان کے زیادہ مشہور ہم عصروں میں ناصر کاظمی‘ منیر نیازی‘ احمد فراز‘ ظفر اقبال‘ شہزاد احمد‘ محبوب خزاں‘ اطہر نفیس‘ شہرت بخاری‘ ۔
انتظار حسین کے بارے میں لکھنا ، برِ صغیر پاک و ہند کی نو دہائیوں کی شاہراہ پر پیدل چلنے کا عمل ہے جو مجھ سے ممکن نہیں اور نہ ہی یہ میرے بس کی بات ہے۔ میں کوئی ادبی مفتی ہوں اور نہ ہی میرے پاس حکومتِ پاکستان کا جاری کردی ادبی لائسنس ہے کہ میں انتظار حسین کی شخصیت اور فن کے دریا کو ایک تاثراتی مضمون کے کوزے میں بند کر سکوں۔ اور اس وقت تو میرے پاس کوئی ایسی تصویر بھی نہیں جس میں انتظار حسین میرے ساتھ کھڑے ہوں اور میں نے ان کے کندھے پر ہاتھ کا بوجھ ڈالا ہوا ہو ، جسے میں فیس بک پر لگا سکوں۔
In one of the opening scenes of Satyajit Ray’s masterpiece, Shatranj kay Khilari, the camera pans out to depict the throne of Awadh. The throne is symbolically unoccupied.
Sharbari Ahmed’s debut collection of short fiction, The Ocean of Mrs. Nagai: Stories, took her fifteen years to complete, including two years in graduate school at NYU
Mohammad Umer Memon on Contemporary Urdu Fiction
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It is difficult to decide which facts of an author’s life are relevant to a book review. A lot of reviewers have already made a big deal of the fact that Moazzam Sheikh is a Pakistani immigrant living in the USA.
In the mid-1950s, when the Pakistani prime minister Mohammad Ali Bogra falls in love with his secretary, it occurs to him that according to the Islamic principles on which his country is governed, he would be legally within his rights should he take a second
Neel Mukherjee has delivered on the promise of his first novel. His second, The Lives of Others, currently long listed for the Booker Prize, is a tour de force, says Oindrila Mukherjee.
The Golden Pigeon, Shahid Siddiqui’s debut work of fiction, is best described not so much as a historical novel but as a historical fantasy. Using the contradictions faced by Muslims in post-Partition India as the foundation of his story, the author has layered in elements of magic realism
For a short novel, Family Life has been a long time in the making. It’s nearly 14 years since Delhi-born author Akhil Sharma’s first novel, An Obedient Father, was published, going on to win the 2001 Hemingway Foundation/PEN
Thar is in limelight, again. But, this time, not for any odd reason.We have been hearing of deaths of children caused by severe drought in Thar for the last two and a half years. However, not all news coming out of this desert is bad.Being the repository of culture and folk wisdom, this arid region of southern Sindh is widely considered as nature’s open museum.
سب سے پہلے تو 878 صفحات کا ایک ناول لکھ ڈالنا ہی آج کے دور میں کسی کرشمے سے کم نہیں، پھر کسی ناشر کا اسکی طباعت پر راضی ہو جانا بھی ایک معجزہ ہی قرار دیا جائے گا لیکن اس سلسلے کی آخری کڑی سب سے زیادہ محّیر العقول ثابت ہوئی یعنی سال بھر کے اندر اس ناول کا دوسرا ایڈیشن چھاپنے کی نوبت آگئی۔
The Lowland begins in Calcutta, against the backdrop of India’s 1960s Naxalite movement, an attempt at a Maoist revolution that unfolded first in a small West Bengali village. Two young brothers, Udayan and the slightly older Subhash, grow up in Tollygunge, a Calcutta neighhorhood , where they spend their days figuring out how
تم پر کئی گھنٹوں کی جرح اور اُسکے بعد نصف صدی سے بھی زیادہ سوچ بچار کے بعد ہم اب تک یہ سمجھنے سے قاصر ہیں کہ تم عورت کی چھاتیوں کو چھاتیاں کہنے پر کیوں مُصِر ہو۔
تمہارا کہنا ہے کہ میں کسی عورت کے سینے کا ذکر کرنا چاہوں گا تو اُسے عورت کا سینہ ہی کہوں گا۔ عورت کی چھاتیوں کو آپ مونگ پھلی، میز یا اُسترہ نہیں کہ سکتے۔ یوں تو بعض حضرات کے نزدیک عورت کا وجود ہی فحش ہے مگر اس کا کیا علاج ہو سکتا ہے؟