A nation’s power and might is not in its Tanks and missiles but is known by its intellectual capability, knowledge, innovation, creativity and through its respect of human rights and freedom of expression.
The talk of doom and gloom in Pakistan, after a flurry of bad news on economic front the terrorist attacks, has created doubts in the minds of even the hardest of incorrigible optimists and patriots about the future of Pakistani governance and state.
As the poet philosopher Iqbal said in his poems, “this soil is very fertile”, (translated verse).it is as true today as on the day of creation of Pakistan. I met a Bearded University Professor teaching primary school kids for charity in Northern Areas whose research thesis was "Sir Francis Bacon"
In the field of scientific innovation we can hold our heads high on names like Dr Abdus salam, Dr parvez hoodbhoy and professor Attar Rehman. our creative genius in arts and literature has been recognised world over in people Faiz, Sadqeen, Guljee bapsi sidwa tariq ali and hanif kureishi.
Today on ATP we want to talk about literary Prowse of Pakistani authors and writers of Pakistani origin, the list is endless. In 2007 and 2008 bestseller lists worldwide Pakistanis authors have been in more Bestseller lists than any other English speaking nationality out side UK and USA (even prolific writers from India do not come close) with the notable exceptions of arvind adiga booker prize winner “the white Tiger” and khaled Husseini the Afghan American author.
Few days ago I got my copy of Christmas Gift Guide by European bookseller Giant Waterstone’s and was amazed to find two books by Pakistanis (mohsin Hamid and James Caan), water stone’s describe the books as perfect read for a Christmas morning.
In man booker prize, mohsin hamid was short listed in 2007 for his novella “the Reluctant Fundamentalist” which is currently in Top 50 of book sales charts in UK and Europe, Mohammed Hanif was long listed in 2008 for his debut novel “a case of exploding mangoes” and is short listed for the first book award from one of the biggest English language newspapers in the world “the Guardian”.
Yasmin Hai’s book was serialised for BBC radio4, Mohammed Hanif’s book has been reviewed by BBC Asian Network, James caan is a celebrity business tycoon on BBC shows, Tariq ali is on a major Book tour of North America hanif kureishi keeps appearing on European channels from time to time. Bolly wood director rahul bose is making a movie on moth smoke, many of bapsi sidwa works have been adopted for movies like earth and water.
Currently busy in a project in central library, I cannot help but notice benazir bhutto’s autobiography “daughter of the east” is in very high demand and so is mukhtar mai’s “in the name of Honour”, new borrowers have to go on a waiting list for mohammed hanif and mohsin hamid Books and library had to order the audio version of their books to cope with demand.
In urdu/Hindi/Punjabi/Arabic section my favourite Mr mustansar hussain tarar is still the front runner, closely followed by zulfikar ali Bhutto and benazir bhutto’s multiple biographies even oxford freshman bilawal zardari is popular , General ayub khan is back on book shelves in the urdu reincarnation of his biography “friends, not masters”.
local book store selling discount books for Christmas has a high stack of General Musharraf/ Hamayun Gohar's fictional Adventure “in the line of fire” and saira Ahmed's "Disgraced" , right next to Cherie Blair’s( wife of ex british prime minister Tony Blair) “speaking for my self” ( reduced price to clear stock).
My local oxfam’s charity bookstore has books by tehmina durrani, abdus sattar edhi. Tariq ali , hanif kureshi, Sara Sulehri (daughter of journalist ZA Sulehri) and Pakistan tourist Guide books co-authored by Cricketer Imran Khan)
Pakistanis , no matter where they are, love to write and enjoy great books, I would be wonderful idea to give friends and family Pakistani bestsellers this festive season.
ATP Best seller list for Festive season 2008/09
1. Mohsin Hamid’s The reluctant Fundamentalist
2. Mohammed Hanif “ a case of Exploding Mangoes”
3. Tariq ali’ s The leopard and the Fox –a Pakistani tragedy
and The Duel
4. James Caan’s “the real deal- out side the dragon’s den”
5. Yasmin Hai’s “Making of Mr Hai’s Daughter”
6. Zia Uddin Sardar’s “Balti Britain”
7. Nadeem Aslam’s “ the wasted vigil”
8. Hanif Kureishi’s “something to tell you”
9. Bapsi Sidwa’s “Pakistani bride”
10. Amir Khan’s “boy from Bolton my story”
11. Tahir shah (the caliph’s house) and sibling Saira shah “story teller’s daughter” are honoured by ATP as authors of dual Pak-Afghan heritage.
ATP has the privilege of spreading the word, good books and cheers this festive season to the Pakistanis in the Diaspora and the homeland.