"If we pass over the question of what the literature should be from the nationalistic point of view and take a look at Pakistan literature, more specifically Pakistani short stories, and try to understand their background, then a broad picture emerges and it is this: the environment and the society that obtained after the Partition and that evolved over the past fifty years, was not the same as the composite society that excited before the partition. Pakistan has a dominant Muslim majority. So the nature of social interactions was different here from that in India."
"A more important thing is that just after the Partition the writers and thinkers here had to negotiate questions that were specific to Pakistan. The writers in India were not faced with such questions as they were not inheritors of a historical and literary continuity. Here there was a rupture in that continuity. One had to discover the connections anew. If Pakistan were a different nation then what was its national cultural identity? Where could it trace its beginnings? One could certainly trace it from the advent of Muslims in the subcontinent, but how about the eras before that?"
The short stories - written originally in Urdu, Punjabi, Sindhi, Pushto and Saraiki, and now translated into English - showcased in this anthology engage with the above questions in their own ways, articulating a multiplicity of voices and experiences. They chronicle the birth of the Pakistani nation in traumatic circumstances and its chequered history over the past fifty years, through depicting the "desires and aspirations, fear and horror, pride, shame, helplessness and a thousand other unnamed feelings" of their protagonists. While doing so, they also depict the immensely varied and rich tapestry of the cultural life in Pakistan.
Abut the Author:
Intizar Hussain (1925) is a celebrated novelist, short story writer and columnist of Pakistan. Born in India, he migrated to Pakistan in 1947. an acknowledged master or Urdu short story, his best known collections are Gali Kuche (1952), Aakhri Admi (1967), Shahr-e Afsoos (1973), and Kachve (1981). Basti (1979) has remained the most popular among his novals, the other being, Tazkara and Age Samandar Hai. He has received a number of national and international awards.
Asif Farrukhi, a doctor by profession, is a prolific writer, translator and editor. His first collection of short stories, Atishfishan Mein Khile Gulab came out in 1998. He has translated widely from the world literature and South Asian Literature into Urdu. Among his recently publish (edited) books are Fires in an Autumn Garden (1997) and An Evening With Caged Beasts: Seven Postmodernist Urdu Poets (1999).
M. Asaduddin writes on aspect of Indian Literature(s) and culture, and translates from Ahomiya, Bangla, Hindi and Urdu into English. Among his recently published (translated and edited) books are : Lifting the Veil : Selected Writings of Ismat Chughtai (New Delhi : Penguin Books, 2001), For Freedom's Sake : Stories and Sketches of Saadat Hasan Manto (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2001), and (with Mushirul Hasan) Image and Representation : Stories of Muslim Lives in India (New Delhi : Oxford University Press, 2000). A recipient of the Katha Award and Dr A.K. Ramanujan Award for translation, M. Asaduddin has been a fellow at the British Centre fro Literary Translation, University of East Anglia, U.K. He currently teaches English literature and Translation Studies at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.
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