Category Archives: Literature

South Asian Literature Festival (15-25 October)

PTH announces the forthcoming festival – Raza Rumi
The inaugural South Asian Literature Festival takes place in London from 15th – 25th October, followed by outreach events in Brighton, Edinburgh, Birmingham and Manchester at the end of October.
SALF joins an emerging landscape of literature festivals located in South Asia including Jaipur, Hay Festival Kerala, Galle and Karachi Literature Festivals but is UK based and the only one to have the remit of focusing on South Asian writing exclusively.

Reflecting the diverse nature of South Asian culture, SALF is a multi-dimensional festival and will explore the politics, languages and literature of the region through music, spoken word, visual arts and literary performance.

Playing host to a stellar cast of authors, actors, poets, musicians – home-grown, international and from the sub-continent – and leading lights from the worlds of politics, academia and broadcasting, SALF looks forward to hosting top names such as prize-winning novelist Romesh Gunesekera; from two great political dynasties, Fatima Bhutto and Nayantara Sahgal; historian Michael Wood, acclaimed writer and musicianAmit Chaudhuri, Pakistan’s rising-star author Moniza Alvi, jazz musician Cleveland Watkiss and well-known broadcasters Mihir Bose and Hardeep Singh Kohli. Continue reading

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In Baghdad Ruins, Remains of a Cultural Bridge

Reproduced from The New York Times

By ANTHONY SHADID

Published: May 21, 2010

 http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/22/world/middleeast/22house.html?pagewanted=1&ref=middleeast

BAGHDAD — Report No. 25, dated April 4 and written by Col. Qais Hussein, was clinical, the anonymous survey of an explosion in a city where explosions are ordinary.

 “Material damage: significant,” it declared of the car bomb that was detonated last month near the Egyptian Embassy, killing 17 people. “The burning of 10 cars + the burning of a house, which was in front of the embassy, with moderate damage to 10 surrounding houses.”

Colonel Hussein’s report didn’t mention the hundreds of books, from plays of Chekhov to novels of the Palestinian writer Ghassan Kanafani, stored in bags, boxes and a stairwell. It didn’t speak of the paintings there of Shaker Hassan, one of Iraq’s greatest, or the sculptures of his compatriot, Mohammed Ghani Hikmat. There was no note of the stone brought from an exile’s birthplace in Bethlehem that helped build the house as a cosmopolitan refuge bridging West and East.

Nor did Colonel Hussein’s report mention that the home belonged to Jabra Ibrahim Jabra, a renowned Arab novelist, poet, painter, critic and translator who built it along the date palms and mulberry trees of Princesses’ Street nearly a half-century ago and lived there until his death in 1994.

This is not a story about an outpouring of grief over its destruction. There were no commemorations, few tributes. As Fadhil Thamer, a critic, said, “People here have seen too much.”

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Filed under Identity, Iraq, Literature, Pakistan, Palestine-israel, Religion, Terrorism, USA, violence, war

Karachi Literary Festival: Spring in the land of suicide bombers and charlatans

Raza Rumi

Who says Pakistani literature was a relic of the past? If anything, Pakistani authors have a global audience today, and our writers are now the greatest harbingers of Pakistan’s complexity and nuance in a way that the embedded media can scarcely fathom.

The first literary festival took off in our cosmopolitan melting pot, Karachi, in March. The Oxford University Press’ dynamic head Ameena Saiyid, and the British Council, together organised this event. Asif Farrukhi, the premier litterateur of the metropolis was central to the festival. Farrukhi’s comprehensive command of Urdu and English literary currents, and the stature which he has earned with his hard work, ensured that we were all set for a fabulous gala.

Earlier, the festival faced the usual hurdles: the Indians were issued visas rather late in the day and my friend Sadia Dehlvi was denied a visa at the last minute, despite earnest efforts by the organisers. The iron curtain was rigidly in place. But the other regional and international delegates arrived as planned. The last minute finalisation of the schedule meant that due notice could not be given to many participants. However, the OUP team, especially Raheela Baqai, were adept at getting things done. Saiyid herself used Facebook to advertise the event. She’s obviously keeping up with technology and its changing frontiers.

We arrived just in time for the launch ceremony that was held at the British Consulate. It was quite a journey from the Carlton Hotel to old-world Clifton – a mini-bus that dazzled with literary icons of our time: Iftikhar Arif, Intezar Hussain, Masood Ash’ar and Shamsur Rehman Farooqi from the world of Urdu. The front seats were occupied by the petite and resplendent Bapsi Sidhwa, the contemplative Zulfiqar Ghose and the younger British Pakistani writer Sarfaraz Manzoor, whose book ‘Greetings From Bury Park’ has created waves across the English reading Continue reading

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FICTION: The Solidity of Things

Posted by Raza Rumi

At PTH, we have struggled to retain the balance between politics, history and arts and culture. However, given Pakistan’s turbulent politics and security, it has been an uphill task. We are now inviting new writers to come and express themselves at PTH. Especially since the explosion (pun intended) of Pakistani fiction at a global scale. We are printing a story by Hamza Rehman who is a an Esquire based in Islamabad. Hamza is a practising lawyer who moonlights as DJ for Pakistan Broadcasting Association’s Planet FM 94, where he hosts the Alternative Rock and 80’s shows. He freelances for The Friday Times and pens fiction as much as he can. He primarily writes about characters in Islamabad and experiments heavily with metaphor. The Solidity of Things is his debut short story.

Hope the readers would enjoy this rather bold, avante garde story.

“… but they sprawled from another country, Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar and the rest.

Islamabad is Pakistan’s first city.”

The billboard outside the Daewoo Bus Station introduced Islamabad as a new sentence to passengers arriving from Lahore. The other cities trailed off from another paragraph – divided India. Yes of course, Ahmed thought, Islamabad was post partition. The 1960’s. Ahmed sat in his jaundiced Suzuki FX that peeled silver rust at places. Through the tempered glass the weather shone warm with grim April yellow. Ahmed tried to make out if his maternal cousin, Haroon, had arrived.

Islamabad was roadblock central now. Blockades were a zipper formation and the ITP an ever vigil martinet on Fridays. Ahmed remembered a conversation with Usman: “Ahmed, solid terrorism, or manifest terrorism, isn’t the Islamabad Marriot burning the fuck down.” Taking a drag of his Gold Leaf, Usman had pithily said, “It’s the insecurity that follows”, in a wisp of solid smoke and truth.  Continue reading

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The House Of Fear – Book Review

By Yasser Latif Hamdani

The House Of Fear
Ibn-E- Safi
Translated by Bilal Tanweer
Random House
228 pages
Rs195 (Indian)

Random House India have brought to life and into the English language the fast paced adventures of Pakistan’s Sherlock Holmes and James Bond rolled into one: Ali Imran MSc, PhD (Oxon) aka X2- the super sleuth whose act as a fool is a cover for his sharp intellect which is utilized by the intelligence agency to its fullest. Created by Asrar Narvi who wrote under the nom de plume of “Ibn-e-Safi” (his father’s name was Safiullah), the Imran Series and its forerunner “Jasoosi Duniya” (Spy World) won praise from none other than the great Agatha Christie herself. Continue reading

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Karachi Literary Festival

by Raza Rumi

Oxford University Press and the British Council are holding a literary festival – first of its kind.

The programme can be viewed here – Full programme of the Karachi Literary Festival

I am off to Karachi to attend this moot.

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Unbordered Memories – Sindhi Stories of Partition.

Edited and Tranlated by Rita Kothari

We are grateful to Isa Daudpota to have alerted us to an invaluable collection of Sindhi Partition narratives.

As Isa says, most people in Pakistan are unaware of the plight of Sindhi Hindus who migrated to India at the time of Partition.  The two stories are a useful corrective. Copies are available from www.penguinindia.com or amazon.com.  Indeed, All public libraries in Sindh should have a copy.

Raza Rumi

Unbordered Memories. Sindhi Stories of Partition. Ed and Trans Rita Kothari. Contents and Intro[1]

Two stories from Unbordered Memories. ed Rita Kothari. Penguin[1]

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Filed under Books, Literature, Pak Tea House, Pakistan, Partition, Sindh, translations, Writers