Stories about books

Digital piracy: Sharing is not stealing

Today, we are witness to an increasing number of crackdowns on piracy, with the police raiding street vendors, storerooms and middlemen involved in piracy of media goods including music CDs, VCDs, DVDs, books, software CDs, etcetera, with tougher laws, heavier penalties and fines, and with increasing court cases filed by media producers against pirates. However, piracy is an overwhelming force, with millions of criminals working hand in hand with consumers – us, the people who patronise the theft in films, music, comics, books, and other media goods. Sharing is not stealing: At least, it shouldn’t be How about digital piracy though? ...

Read Full Post

No tea for Mortenson…

I met Greg Mortenson at the Authors Festival in Carmel, California while I was attending grad school in the area. We chatted for half an hour and swapped contact information so we could meet in Pakistan. While in Pakistan, I rang up his Central Asia Institute (CAI) contact, Suleman, to arrange a meeting but Mortenson’s trip was cancelled because of his heart condition. Nevertheless we kept in touch through emails and Facebook. I made an effort to see the CAI schools in Skardu while I was visiting those areas during my summer break. After my return to California, a group ...

Read Full Post

The demise of reason

“Being in your company”, said Bahadur Shah Zafar, the principal convict after India’s battle for independence in 1857, “is nothing like what it used to be; it’s harder for one to speak up than it ever was.” The entire experience of those troubled times informs the verse. Strangely, what we are going through nowadays is very similar. Voice the littlest of dissent and you hear a bullet whiz by or a must-be-killed edict. The prudent counsel, therefore, is to shun religious debate. To hear whatever interpretation is being put forward for Islam and to remain quiet. But there are those ...

Read Full Post

Saeed Book Bank: Another casualty in KP

It’s not that I never anticipated the closure of one of Peshawar’s largest and oldest bookstores, Saeed Book Bank, yet that news still broke my heart. I can’t exactly recall my first visit to the store but I do know it was the best book store in the province. Saeed Book Bank has been regarded as a site worth mentioning to tourists in Peshawar. It has served the literary and educational needs of the people of KP for over five decades. Saeed Book Bank was established in 1955 by Saeed Jan Qureshi. His sons took over the family business in 1985. ...

Read Full Post

The Deathly Hallows: Harry Potter comes of age

The Harry Potter series has come a long way since the first book. The film adaptations have managed to stay true to J K Rowling’s books and the latest film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – the  seventh in the series – tells the darker side of the that story audiences world over have come to love. The film takes us into the mind of Lord Voldemort, the darkest wizard of all time whom Harry must defeat by the end of his quest. Unlike previous films, there is no attempt to tone down the dark cruelty of the Death ...

Read Full Post

Works on Faiz and other books

Were he alive today, Ahmad Nadim Qasmi would have found the current fervour and growing unanimity of acclaim for Faiz Ahmad Faiz quite intriguing since he thought that his own sidelining as a secondary figure of contemporary Urdu poetry during the latter’s lifetime had something to do with class and lifestyle. With class and lifestyle gone with the man, now what remains, Qasmi Sahib would have wondered, but his poetry and his memory? Is that worth making so much fuss about? In the realm of the arts, relative greatness cannot be determined with a measuring tape. Faiz Sahib himself made no such ...

Read Full Post

Dedicated writers: The bright side

The days of calm and peace lie so distant in our past as to be a fading dream. What we have is chaos and anarchy, loot and extortion, theft and robbery, violence, murder and terrorism. Not many days go by without another blast killing many and causing wives to be widowed and children to be orphaned. It is natural for people in times like these not to take life for granted and for the feeling of transience to be heightened. Such are our circumstances but sometimes one comes across something that makes one wonder how it is that there are ...

Read Full Post

Book fairs in a country of book haters

“Me and books?” was the sarcasm filled reply, I often heard during my early years when I asked peers, “Which book have you read recently?”. This was my idea of making conversation,  but those around me would rather discuss the latest fast food deals in town. Hence, I spent many hours of my life reading and writing on my own, talking to books, wondering how to share the love of words. However, the situation seems to have improved. Or perhaps there are just more places for me to discover other bookworms like me now. One such venue is the Karachi International ...

Read Full Post

Dan Brown: A disappointing one-hit wonder

“The Da Vinci Code” hit book shelves in 2003, and went on to become the best-selling English language novel of the 21st century. Very few books dig down into the roots of history, challenge your beliefs and provide food for thought; this one did. Besides igniting some ferocious controversies and becoming a global phenomenon, the book established its author, Dan Brown, as a talent to watch. However, Brown’s next books have failed to live up to the standards that he himself modeled. There’s a blatant sense of repetition and a tone of monotony easily palpable in his novels that followed. Take ...

Read Full Post

For the love of books: Digital is not always better

I’ve been papering my wall with pages of old books that I’ve loved. The mechanical exercise is strangely cathartic and every time I step back to look, it makes me happy. However, it does set off a train of thought on the role of books in a busy world, where paper is becoming redundant. Is it true that they are becoming largely ornamental, to display on shelves and proclaim, “I read”? For those who can afford it, options exist which have eliminated the need to ever enter a bookshop. The Amazon Kindle, for instance, is the ultimate simulation of the book ...

Read Full Post