The written word: Sale of Pashto poetry books rockets in 2015

Published: December 30, 2015
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Closure of Danish Kutabkhana dealt critical blow to publishing industry PHOTOS: CREATIVE COMMONS

Closure of Danish Kutabkhana dealt critical blow to publishing industry PHOTOS: CREATIVE COMMONS

PESHAWAR: The sale of poetry books soared as thousands of books on the Pashto verse were published in 2015. A majority of Pukhtun writers did not focus on writing prose or literary criticism and were more inclined towards poetry. Meanwhile, only a few senior writers embarked on research work.

War and peace

According to statistics available with The Express Tribune, 2,500 Pashto books were published in 2015. At least 80% of them were poetry books. The main theme of most of these books remained war and peace, thematically simpatico with the situation in the region.

A large number of books were also self-published. Not more than 500 copies of such books were printed and they soon disappeared from the market.

University Books Agency has emerged as the leading publisher and retailer of Pashto books after Danish Kutabkhana closed its operations in the city and shifted to Kabul. The decision was taken because the situation in Afghanistan improved and the demand for Pashto publications has increased.

Nevertheless, the closure of Danish Kutabkhana dealt a major blow to the city as thousands of books have been published by the imprint.

Quality over quantity

“Thousands of Pashto books were published this year,” a representative of University Books Agency told The Express Tribune. “But a majority of them were poetry books penned by [poets who weren’t very famous].”  He added, “There are very few books that could be considered exceptional works of poetry.”

According to the representative, people have purchased these books which encouraged the writers.

An important poetry collection released this year was Pemana da Ghazal. This is the work of the late Shamsul Qamar Andesh which was published posthumously as Andesh did not want to publish his poetry in his lifetime. Another anthology, Za pa chak prot yam by Mumtaz Orakzai, was also released this year. The author is a seasoned poet from Orakzai Agency.

The poetry collection of the late Khatir Afridi – a poet from Khyber Agency – Kulyat-e-Khyber Afridi was also released. Afridi, whose real name was Misri Khan, died in 1961, leaving behind an abundance of poetry in small booklets. According to writers, a large number of poetry anthologies were published because the prevailing conditions favoured them.

Literary expressions

A majority of these collections pay tribute to the Army Public School massacre and those who have laid down their lives in the war against militancy. “Some good writers are included among these writers,” he said. “But in our area, people read books written by famous writers,” veteran Pashto scholar, poet and writer Layaq Zada Layaq said.

Works in Hindko

Hindko literature has also soared to new heights due to the organised efforts of Gandhara Hindko Academy and funds worth Rs70 million allocated by the K-P government for the promotion of the language. In addition to organising the International Hindko Conference, the academy has published a number of books which can be downloaded from its website. Meanwhile, the culture directorate failed to publish any books this year, but insists it will be publishing 39 books in the future.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 30th, 2015.

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