Stories about literature

Why every Karachiite will be able to relate to ‘Karachi, you’re killing me’

Last month, I grabbed a copy of ‘Karachi, you’re killing me’ by Saba Imtiaz. The title was quite relatable and I knew I had to get my hands on that book. Since I live in Karachi, and have the privilege of going through the same misery (and joy) that was written at the back of the book, I knew I had to read it as soon as possible, even more so because Mohammad Hanif recommended it. The story opens with the happening life of a female journalist named Ayesha. The book illustrates the agonistic life of a journalist who has to wake up early for a work ...

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Will the real liberal please stand up?

The recently held Karachi Literature Festival 2017 was a hub alright. But a hub of what? What it stands for, ideally, is not just celebrating books and authors, but also to serve as a hub for Pakistan’s beautiful minds that allow critical thinking and are truly progressive. Literature and the arts, on such forums, are designed to allow an open inflow and outflow of thoughts and ideas, and an exchange of not just narrative but also counter narrative. One counterfoil session of the KLF 2017 was introduced as a discussion on conflict-resolution through art and enterprise. One of Pakistan’s well ...

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“So, what’s Pakistan like?”

The old man had the most startling blue eyes, the kind that glittered in a wizard-like way. He was a contractual worker fixing some room in the building where I work, and I met him in the kitchen over my morning coffee. He asked where I’m from and widened his eyes. He didn’t comment on how good my English is, but how American my accent is (which I take no offence or pride in – it’s not the two years of Master’s in St Louis but all those American movies and TV shows I watch). And then he asked me ...

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Series 7: Dada Baba and me Part 1 ‘My life from my deathbed’

It was a sunny morning amid the typical mid-summer hustle and bustle on the roads of Punjab. The rays of the sun made their way into my eyes and pierced through my pupils, blinding me momentarily yet almost completely. I adjusted my sight, trying to squeeze my eyes to halt the enforced violation of my personal eyesight space by nature’s brightest star, as a bead of sweat trickled down from my forehead and into the wrinkles around my squeezed eyes. The bus engine roared, and the passengers moved around in unison on every bump. The elderly man next to ...

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A Rage for Order: Painting a crucial portrait of the deeply troubled Arab uprising

Revolutions never seem to bring the happiness they promise. There was no happy conclusion in France in 1789 or Russia in 1917 and neither in Egypt or Libya or Syria in 2011. Instead, if anything, the Middle East has gone from bad – brutal dictatorships built on secret police and theft – to worse; open civil war and genocide. The year 2011 saw a revolution escalate through the Middle East as protesters demanded an end to tyranny, corruption and economic decay. From Egypt to Yemen, a generation of young Arabs insisted on a new culture of common nationality. Five years later, their utopian goals have taken on a darker ...

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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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Who let the Kuttay out?

What’s nearly as good as reading an Urdu poem? Simple! Hearing it sung. This might sound ridiculous to many of you out there, and if the poet in question is the legendary Faiz Ahmed Faiz, even blasphemous, but here me out. When was the last time you allowed yourself to indulge in written Urdu kalaam? Get my point? So, when we get to hear relatively obscure work of these literary maestros, since we seem to be so averse to the idea of actually reading them, I believe it’s something to be valued rather than being ridiculed. This brings me to ‘Kuttay‘, ...

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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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The English language is dying and we are the ones slitting its throat

Language shapes the way we think. It’s a system of investigation of reality, and control of reality. Today, so many of us live for language. It is our mode of communication, words are how we express what we mean, want, and desire. Actions do not speak louder. Words are direct, and distinct. But what happens when they aren’t anymore? What happens when words begin to diminish into abbreviations and sentences into acronyms? People blame the millennials, they always do. But this hasn’t solely plagued our generation. I was re-reading George Orwell’s 1984 for a class last semester. I realised that in the world of ...

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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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