↑ Grab this Headline Animator

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

huma imtiaz

Two things jump up when i read the following review.

One, The sea does not figure much in the literature of or about Karachi. Karachi is a city by the sea.

The only folks who lived off the sea, the original inhabitants, the fisherman, and the boat builders are marginalised.

The overwhelming majority of Karachites are from elsewhere and perhaps because of that have not developed a relationship with the sea yet.

And the poor writer being reviewed has not much to hope for except to get more well acquainted with the sea!

Second, Huma has been perhaps a bit hard on Danial. Being popular locally is an unfair criteria to judge writing, imho.

Perhaps the biggest travesty is that this book is primarily centred in Karachi. Pakistan's largest city, the City of Lights, (rather Loadshedding now), has stories that would take perhaps a thousand books to write. Yet it seems that the fiction writers currently writing about Karachi would rather touch upon this side of the bridge/that side of the bridge divide, the rich and famous and their lives and leave the reader wondering why they didn't pick up a book on the history of Karachi's money crowd if they wanted to read up on how they serve tea. As tempted as I was to throw away this book mid-way and write it off as a lost cause, the suicidal element in me persevered, as I kept hoping that at some point the plot line would engage me, the clichés would vain. Or maybe I kept reading it to see how much worse the book would get.

It is encouraging though that more and more Pakistani-born writers are getting their books published. This is Abidi's second novel, and he will hopefully improve with each successive effort. But there is a lesson for Abidi and other writers here: the last two prominent books published by Pakistani authors that have won accolades internationally in the past year are brilliant examples of how to write effective, heart wrenching stories about Pakistan while steering clear of clichés: ?Mohammad Hanif's A Case of Exploding Mangoes, while about the Zia era, uses political satire to effectively tell its story. Daniyal Mueenuddin's debut collection of short stories was earthy, realistic and effective. Abidi unfortunately has fallen into the trap that many an author from the subcontinent have fallen victim to before -- clichés about their own country and more importantly its people, which sound flat, dull and tired, and fail to connect, at least, with the local audience.


Post a Comment

<< Home