Hurmat Kazmi

Hurmat Kazmi

The author is a Karachi-based freelance writer.

‘Exit West’ and ‘The Golden Legend’ could be Pakistan’s literary game-changers

This is a strong year for Pakistani fiction. Two excellent novels, ‘Exit West’ and ‘The Golden Legend’, by two excellent novelists, Mohsin Hamid and Nadeem Aslam, have been published to great critical acclaim. Another, ‘Home Fire’ by Kamila Shamsie, is forthcoming in August and is already being endorsed by a plethora of writers. Historically, the Man Booker Prize, one of the most prestigious literary prizes in the world, has been won by Indian writers five times. No Pakistani writer has won it and only three, including Aslam and Hamid, have been nominated. This year, with two strong and worthy contenders, Pakistani writers have a great chance of featuring on the long ...

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‘The Ministry of Utmost Happiness’: A beautiful kind of chaos

The publication of her first novel, ‘The God of Small Things’, its subsequent Man Booker win, multi-million sales, and the international celebrity status she has since enjoyed are the only impediments in the way of the success of Arundhati Roy’s second novel, ‘The Ministry of Utmost Happiness’. It is a novel as remarkable and dazzling as her first, but it is this unwieldy comparison that dulls its colours and sours its taste. It is a book so different and so far removed from ‘The God of Small Things’ that it feels it’s written by a different writer altogether. Given the 20-year hiatus between the publication of the ...

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‘A Horse Walks into a Bar’ and ‘Judas’: Two riveting masterpieces from Israel to the world

‘A Horse Walks into a Bar’ by David Grossman Dov Greenstein, the stand-up comedian at the centre of David Grossman’s quirky and ravishing new novel ‘A Horse Walks into a Bar’ confesses: “It’s a pretty pathetic form of entertainment, let’s be honest.” But whether his jokes are drab or stirring, whacky or offensive, this book, as austere as it is hilarious, never loses sight of the earnestness of its authors undulating vision and ambition even while casually masquerading as a comic novel. Spanning a single evening and set in a chic nightclub in Netanya, a small town in Israel, the novel tells the story of the stand-up ...

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Five non-fiction books of 2016 you should definitely read!

The past year was encapsulated with great works of literature – especially when it came to non-fiction. The following five books delved deep into relevant issues in today’s world.  1. The Return by Hisham Matar It’s a searing and poignant book that deals with the abduction of Matar’s father, Jaballa Matar, in Libya.Photo: Goodreads. Hisham Matar’s memoir, The Return, a tear-soaked love letter to his father, towered over all other non-fiction books written last year. It’s a searing and poignant book that deals with the abduction of Matar’s father, Jaballa Matar, in Libya. Jaballa was a major opponent of the Qaddafi ...

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These 10 novels prove that the literati stepped up their game in 2016

A year that saw Bob Dylan winning the Nobel Prize for Literature was sure to go down in the memory as an extremely unusual literary year. However, the singer-songwriter’s big win was hardly the only surprise of the literary calendar. While many writers took upon themselves the responsibility of responding to the precariously changing political climate (Brexit and Trumpet), others found solace in exploring the perennial themes of race, class, gender, love, and destruction. With such a diverse assortment of books to choose from, here is a highly personal and strongly opinionated list of my favourite novels of 2016. The ...

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Nutshell: In the mind of an unborn foetus

There is nothing quite like the fictions of Ian McEwan in British literature. Though quintessentially ‘English’ in essence, his books are rendered unique, by the shocking precision of language, the wonderful economy of the prose and his macabre explorations of uncharted territories. McEwan’s books are boundless in their depth and beauty, baffling and oblique, and even mystifying in craft, narrative and technique. And though, some of his recent books have been unfortunate missteps, with Nutshell, his latest book, he evokes the haunting resonance and shimmying splendor of his earlier novels such as Enduring Love, Saturday and Atonement. Nutshell is an intelligent and compelling novel that uses Hamlet’s plot as a backdrop and ...

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Ten modern classics you should read this fall

Before I give you a list, here’s a confession: there can never be any right or wrong list of good books, and this is neither. Lists of books, like literary prizes, or any other prizes for that matter (read Oscar and/or Nobel) are extremely subjective and reflect the personal tastes and inclinations of those who concoct them. Following are a few books, which, I believe, have stood the test of time, books that delight and astound every time you read them, books that offer new rewards each time you approach them. These books have been rightly called ‘modern classics’ because they ...

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Homegoing: An uncompromising and astonishing book

Every year, there comes a novel with the kind of pre-publication hype that puts all other contemporary writing in shade. There are endorsements by popular writers, generous blurbs printed on back covers by famous critics and talks of million-dollar book deals and film rights. This year, that book comes in the shape of Homegoing, the debut novel of Yaa Gyasi, a 26-year-old Ghanaian-American writer. One particular feature of such marketing campaigns and publicity tactics is that more than often, the novel shatters the hopes of the readers; it becomes an anti-climax to their fecund anticipations that are fermented by the abundance of praise and excitement ...

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A Whole Life: Less than 150 pages but one of the most deeply affecting books I have ever read

My favourite book of the last year was A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. Despite its ironic title the novel was little in no way, far from it. At around 800 pages, it was one of the longest novels I read last year and was gargantuan in every way possible; in terms of its subject matter, its length and in terms of the depth and resonance of its character. My favourite book of this year, so far, is the exact opposite: Austrian writer Robert Seethaler’s novel, A Whole Life. Yet again, despite its ironic title, the novel runs a little ...

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Chernobyl Prayer: A chilling walk through nuclear disaster struck lives

On April 26, 1986, at a nuclear plant in Chernobyl, a restricted district in Ukraine, a slapdash scientific experiment ignited a fire that exploded the plant and unleashed a heavy mass, almost 50 tonnes, of radioactive element into the atmosphere. The radioactive contamination swiftly spread towards much of Western USSR and Europe. The highly excited nuclear particles infested fields, landscapes, forest, villages and cities, leaving the area highly radioactive for hundreds of years to come. The Chernobyl disaster is one of the worst and most catastrophic nuclear accidents in the history of mankind; hence, it was no surprise that ...

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