Literary voices: ‘Give it time and Pakistani literature will bloom’

Writer and journalist Anwer Sen Roy sees a bright future for Pakistani writers.


Umer Nangiana January 28, 2012

ISLAMABAD:


Many in Pakistan fear the country has been losing on the literary front for the past few years.


The volume of quality work deteriorated following the demise of literary giants like playwright Ashfaq Ahmed and short story writers Mumtaz Mufti and Saadat Hassan Manto. It has been long since a poet as eminent as Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi or Ahmed Faraz emerged on the horizon of Urdu literature. This was discussed at a gathering at Pakistan Academy of Letters (PAL) here on Thursday.

“But it takes time for people to make it big. I see a bright future for literature in Pakistan as people are producing good work here,” said journalist, writer and poet Anwer Sen Roy.

Roy has been working with the BBC World Service for the past 11 years and proved his niche as a poet and short story writer. He has published a number of short stories, poems and translations. His novel “Cheekh” (A Cry), written in 1980 but published later in 1987 due to pre-censorship imposed by the then military dictator, was termed an “FIR” against the martial law of Zia.

It tackled the themes of servitude, torture and political repression. Anwer said the government in Pakistan has done nothing to promote the national language which is the language of the local literature. In the age of technological advancements, PAL is still producing magazines and journals in print, no longer an effective medium for the promotion of language and literature, he added.

“We have not even translated the literature of our golden literary era (1950-80s) into English so that more international audience could access it,” Anwer said. He added that PAL was underutilised.

He said the government should focus on the uplift and promotion of Urdu language and young minds should be encouraged to take lead in the task to achieve it. Anwer read from his recent short story “Ek Maskharay ka Ikhtimam”, which is yet to be published. The reading was followed by a critical discussion of the story.

His second novel “Zilaton ke aseer” was published in 1993. Anwer said he has been keeping another novel written with him for 17 years but wanted to work on it more before publishing.

Anwer was associated with many newspapers in Karachi before joining BBC world Service. He returned from London last year to work as producer at BBC’s Karachi office. While speaking about the local electronic media, Anwer said it will take a long time to mature as it is still in its infancy.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 28th, 2012.

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