Intezar Hussain

Intezaar Hussain

An eminent Urdu fiction writer who writes short stories and novels, and also columns for newspapers in English.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Journalist, writer and carpenter

Most of us tend to believe, for good reason, that journalism is inimical to creative writing. Exceptions apart, the Urdu writers who have ventured into journalism have not returned to the world of literature. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the South American writer, however, believes otherwise. He learnt, he says, from his own experience that literature and journalism are conjoined and nurture each other. An Urdu translation of the interview has been published in Kahani Ghar, a new literary magazine. Marquez, it seems, resents the use of tape recorders by interviewers, a standard practice these days. “I have a very good one”, he ...

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East is East and West is West

Last week, I had mentioned a thought provoking article Shamim Hanfi read at the International Urdu Conference, particularly his citation of Firaq Gorakhpuri’s view that Asian literature is no match for the European literature produced since the Renaissance. Despite holding Firaq in high esteem I was unable to digest this. Firaq was a great poet as well as the kind of critic I quote a lot. However, he had also been a teacher of English literature and I thought this quote came from Professor Gorakhpuri and not Firaq the poet and critic. Many people I have heard from have been ...

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Eid ironies

It’s customary for Eid greetings now to be accompanied by questions like what the day was like and how well the prayers went. Eidul Azha prompts an additional question about the sacrifice and remarks about prices that fall in the category of a general unhappiness with the times. Predictably, I get lots of telephone calls of this nature from Lahore and Islamabad. But because I also have friends in Delhi, Lucknow and Aligarh, there were some exchanges of the sort with them as well. But a friend in Delhi, whom I happened to ask whether or not he had said ...

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A failed nation?

A statement in the newspapers today by a federal minister brought back memories of a celebrated teacher. The statement is attributed to the minister for production who has advised the government to get rid of Pakistan Steel Mills. The teacher I remembered was Prof Ashfaq Ali Khan who had taught English at Government College, Lahore. It was the Ayub Khan era and a new institution called the Bureau of National Reconstruction had been set up. At its auditorium next to the Coffee House and at the Pakistan Council for National Solidarity there used to be debates on issues of national ...

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The last cloud of a storm

Mansha Yaad, who had been writing short stories, surprisingly passed away in Islamabad this week. Here in Lahore the next day, Hameed Akhtar, fed up with his painful ailment, too, decided that he had had enough of this world. Mansha Yaad was in the mid-spring of his writing. He had published a lot of short stories that earned him plaudits from lay readers as well as critics. Emboldened by the approval, his pen appeared to have grown more fluent. But who can rein death? All of a sudden it ambushed Mansha. Call it providence and be resigned to it. Everybody who ...

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International Urdu conference: Lack of hot debate

Karachi is a strange place. Every day there is a new calamity. Every day you hear shots being fired. Every day there is targeted killing. Every day tortured bodies are recovered from gunny bags. Then there is a break and life returns to normal and there is such hustle and bustle in the streets and bazaars that it appears to be a very peaceful and prosperous metropolis. It was during a break like this that I landed in Karachi. The Express Media Group had organised a two-day international Urdu conference. And it was truly international for it featured not only ...

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A journalist’s journey

I have in front of me Safar Aadhi Sadi ka (Half a Century’ Journey), an autobiography by late Abdul Karim Abid, a famous journalist. It’s a journey full of detours, as should probably be expected considering Abid was not the kind of journalist who kept himself to professional matters. He was in fact the kind of person who participates in and is part of the political goings-on of his times. When such a person takes to writing there is a lot in the narrative for the reader. The difficulty is a narrator who speaks of his role in what went on ...

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A calamity shower

As monsoons arrived in 1857, Ghalib wrote to a correspondent: “Now that rains have been mentioned let me just say that [Delhi has witnessed in quick succession] a rebellion by the black, an assault by the white, a testing time of demolition of houses, a crisis caused by epidemic and a calamitous famine.” Our own season of abundant rains this year looks like a fair match. Briefly: a treacherous campaign by terrorist suicides, a quake called Zulfiqar Mirza, a crisis called target killing, a dengue fever epidemic and a calamitous rain. To be fair, the terrorist suicides are by now part ...

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Faiz Ahmed, PhD?

One wish Faiz was not granted was a PhD. Faiz Shinasi by Abdur Rauf Malik has the details. New books on Faiz keep appearing. When Iftikhar Arif published a voluminous tome before leaving the National Language Authority, I thought the collection of essays should suffice for one wanting to know Faiz. But then books on Faiz followed in quick session. Finally, after Dr Taqi Abidi’s illuminating Faiz Fehmi I decided that I needed to read none of the books that might follow. But there are still three months to go in Faiz Year and the books keep getting published. Malik’s book, it was claimed, sheds ...

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Times change

Last Sunday as we gathered in a corner of the Nairang Gallery we now consider our hangout – we being some of the old timers at Tea House – and learnt about the details of the outrage that had happened here the question that confronted us was whether or not this was the proverbial first rain drop. But first there was a ‘what if?’ What if the incident had happened on a Sunday evening; would we not have been in the line of fire? What if it had been the Sunday when several of the city’s elite intellectuals are present ...

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