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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Kamila Shamsie and love of words

For a change from this interesting account of Kamila Shamsie's visit to Punjab University by Mina Malik Hussain in today's Daily Time.

VIEW: Loving the word —Mina Malik-Hussain

When she began writing — at age nine — Shamsie found herself describing imagined landscapes for years for the simple fact that other than Bapsi Sidhwa and Sara Suleri, no one was writing about our worlds in English

Writers are commonly supposed to be eccentric, irascible, hermitic or flamboyant. After all, they deal with the mysterious realm of language, swimming through the murk of life to create beautiful sentences and stanzas.

Happily, Kamila Shamsie is neither grumpy, antisocial or given to wearing feathers and using words like discombobulate. She does use words like bugaboo, which, as her narrator in Salt and Saffron rightly points out, sounds a lot like baghal boo. And that kind of thought is very Shamsie — funny, punny, wry humour laced with quiet observations of the way we live. It’s almost like Shamsie is slouching against a wall watching the crowd but never joining in. And on the outside she was when storytelling came in search of her.

The English Department of Punjab University took advantage of the most pleasant winter morning Lahore has had in many weeks, and sitting in a lovely warm and sunny corner of the department one had the opportunity to hear Shamsie talk about her writing and how her books came to be what they are. The event was beautifully organised and intimate, even though there were about sixty guests from various universities and colleges.


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