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DAWN The Review, December 25-31, 1999

The Local Scene

We might still be far away from Sophie's World and The Name of the Rose but the local scene is not as barren as it is sometimes perceived. If you are looking for something offbeat with strong political relevance and historical depth you could go for the novels of Mustansar Husain Tarrar, such as Bahao and Raakh. Tarrar, who has been most famous for being a trend setter through his travelogues, seems to be more than just a legitimate heir of Quratul Ain Hyder and Abdullah Husain in the genre of novel writing, since there so much of what he has brought to the genre is his very own.

Humour and satire, which are predictably difficult to write in a country which is not particularly famous for the tolerance level of its population, might not be as rich as novel, and something in the tradition of Urdu Ki Aakhri Kitaab will probably never be written again. But we still have the old timers like Mushtaq Ahmed Yousufi and Shafiqur Rahman, and while the latter has been dormant for quite some time now, after a pretty prolific career, the latter is very much active and around.

Poetry hardly needs a comments here, and in spite of the general cynicism held for upstart poets in our society it seems to be thriving fast. With the veterans Munir Niazi and Ahmed Faraz still in their productive vigour, there is no dearth of new poets who appear on the scene very frequently and make their presence felt. While publishers may still be reluctant to promote new poets the graph of book sales goes a long way to prove that rhythm, melody and play of words are just inseparable ingredients of the soil that we call our very own.

Another area that has grown significantly rich over the last decade is the documentation of political and recent history. Perhaps the explosion began with the groundbreaking success of Shahabnamah in the late eighties, and was further ignited by the liberal atmosphere of the first tenure of Benazir Bhutto. Since then, the local market has seen refreshing research on political subjects including some that had long been held as a taboo, such as the Rawalpindi Conspiracy Case and the assassination of Liaquat Ali Khan. Most writers who specialise in this field are quite prolific, such as Aqeel Abbas Jafferi, best known for Pakistan Key Siyasi Waderay, a no-holds-barred history of the political families of Pakistan, and Ahmed Saleem.


While publishers may still be reluctant to promote new poets the graph of book sales goes a long way to prove that rhythm, melody and play of words are just inseparable ingredients of the soil that we call our very own.

 
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