Stories about writer

Buried under forewords

I have received a strange book of poetry. I started reading it: a foreword, a second foreword and another foreword. After that, yet another foreword. What kind of poetry can it be, I wondered, to need so many prefaces (and where is it hiding). The book is called Satre Nau, the author is Manzar Hussain Akhtar. Having encountered several forewords one after the other I thought maybe these were originally written for separate books and have now been compiled in a single volume. But then I turned another page and to my surprise came upon poetry. Why, I wondered, should poetry ...

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Kung Fu Paindoo

Yesterday, I had another encounter with Disney*: I watched Kung Fu Panda 2. The bits I loved, and I really loved them, were the jokes. So when the Evil King, a peacock with a stainless steel body and lethal blade-feathers, yells exultantly to its minion-wolf: “CALL IN THE WOLVES! All of them! I want them ready to move! The Year of the Peacock begins NOW!” The minion, instead of running along to hasten the orders, pauses, “Right now?” he wonders aloud. “‘Cause it’s the middle of the year, so you’d only get, like, half of the Year of the Peacock.” But generally speaking ...

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The artist’s way

We live in an ugly world; there’s no doubt about that. For the past ten years we have been bombarded with images of terrorism, violence, destruction and death: on the television, in the newspapers and on the Internet. The most recent assault on our collective sensibilities and our battered sense of security is an image I just can’t get out of my head: Sarfaraz Shah begging for his life before being shot and left to bleed to death by the Rangers in Karachi this last week. As I said many months ago on Twitter, Pakistan is a nation in the ...

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VS Naipaul: Proud and prejudicial

“It is the best for all tame animals to be ruled by human beings. For this is how they are kept alive. In the same way, the relationship between the male and the female is by nature such that the male is higher, the female lower, that the male rules and the female is ruled.” This is what Aristotle said hundreds of years ago. It is a less than comforting thought that man has only evolved so much in the years following Aristotle. I say this after reading VS Naipaul’s latest attention seeking rant in Amy Fallon’s report in The Guardian. ...

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Politics and poetry

I love talking about politics. It’s the easiest way to feel productive. So, in view of the political happenings in the past couple of weeks — the OBL raid, Kate and William hitch, conspiracy fairytales, etc — I have decided to dump poetry. I will, for once, give you what you really, really want from a real commentator, an analyst who understands the world, who can, in a matter of 600 words, decode and crack the world open with his razor sharp insight. I will give you a stump of knowledge so hard, so firm that you could use it to whack ...

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Khamosh Kalam: The psychology of a writer

Khamosh Kalam, a production of Laaltain – the IVS performing arts society – won the blue ribbon at the Youth Theatre Festival arranged by the Youth Affairs Ministry in collaboration with the Arts Council. The play is a mime that deals with the creative struggle of a writer as he crafts the perfect anecdote. I spoke with the scriptwriters and directors, Zehra Nawab (Foundation year student, IVS) and Arsal Hasan (Second year student, IVS) who discuss the challenges of theatre art in Pakistan. How did the idea for Khamosh Kalam come about? Khamosh Kalam was derived from a question that ...

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An American perspective: Osama’s death is not Obama’s victory

When Osama bin Laden was killed, I was at a dinner party given by an award-winning author, munching on sweetbread and chatting up brilliant filmmaker, writer and activist types. Though I’m in the country where Bin Laden was tracked and killed, for me the news ironically came from America. I read about his death in an email from Mississippi shortly after waking. My American friends are bombarding my Facebook wall – “What’s it like to be there right now?” Honestly, I feel happy, scared and fairly apathetic. As I rode to work,  I watched Defense pass outside my window—the mosque, the ...

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The best thing about an identity crisis

Exactly one year ago, on the very night I wrote this, I remember not being able to sleep. Such nights were common then. I would twist and turn for over five hours, lying in bed until finally, sleep would come. During those waking hours spent in bed I would cry. My anxiety attacks were so severe that I would fear I may die during the sleepless struggle. I knew I was on the precipice of a full-on identity crisis. In retrospect, I wonder now why I never bothered telling any family member or friend what was going on. Maybe, it was because I ...

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Who do we write for when we write in English?

So what is the second most oft-asked question of a Pakistani writer writing in English? Of course, the first most oft-asked one — ‘Why do you write in English?’ — is less of a question and more an insinuation, really meaning: ‘Why do you write at all?’ In its more severe (read: honest) manifestations it’s more like: ‘Why don’t you have a real job?’ and ‘Why are you this way?’ But that as it might be, the second-most-oft-asked question is — ‘Who do you write for if you write in English about Pakistan?’, and it haunts local writers writing in English. ...

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Selling Faiz to the rich for Rs1,000

Lahore’s mall road was as crowded as always. Beyond the zooming vehicles and amongst the old silent trees, I saw him walking slowly on a footpath. There was something dramatic about the old man’s appearance. He reminded me of realist Soviet paintings; ragged dusty clothes, long gray hair, wrinkled face and clutching a small piece of scarlet, a little red flag. He was heading towards the Alhamra Art Complex which was covered with life sized posters of the legendary socialist poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz. The poet’s centenary celebrations were about to begin and the parking lot was almost full. The old man stood ...

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