In literature, you ‘can’t rank authors’

Islamabad’s literati weigh in on a recent poll that measured authors’ popularity.


Mavra Bari August 15, 2012

ISLAMABAD:


A recent poll by the Gilani Research Foundation put Amjad Islam Amjad as the most popular Pakistani author, followed by Ashfaq Ahmed and Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi.


The Gallup Pakistan Poll posted the question to a representative sample of Pakistanis, according to the foundation. The question asked was: “Which of the following writers (of literature) do you like the most?”

A quarter of the respondents, or 26%, said that Amjad is their favourite author; 13% consider Ashfaq Ahmed as their most favourite, 13% opted for Nadeem Qasmi, 11% for Haseena Moeen whereas 6% said Mustansar Hussain Tarar is their favourite author. Another 18% said that they did not have a favourite author, 1% cited another writer and 12% chose not to respond.

The city’s literati however seem to disagree with the results.

“Amjad Islam Amjad is more popular for writing for television which adds to his popularity and audience, but the comparison between other writers is unfair as they are more prominent in poetry and prose than screenplay,” Iftikhar Arif, a renowned Urdu poet, told The Express Tribune.

Arif said that it is important for any survey to disseminate the demographic details of the respondents so the criteria of the survey can be assessed correctly, which the Gallup Poll did not do. However he expressed delight that writers are getting more limelight now compared to a few years ago.

Arif noted that writers such as Zafar Iqbal, Shahzad Ahmed, Momtaz Mufti and Mushtaq Ahmed Yusufi should also be given due credit and acknowledgment.

Writer and poet Harris Khalique said, “Amjad’s rich contribution to Urdu poetry and teleplays stands out. However, it is hard to determine the most popular writer, particularly in Urdu where there is a galaxy of writers and poets alive and producing.”

He added that art and literature cannot be quantified or graded.

Amjad himself noted that he is very honoured and surprised by the poll, but a fairer comparison would have been with contemporary writers.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 15th, 2012.

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