Commonwealth writers’ prize 2010
By By Anil Datta
Karachi: Pakistani writers in English are the introductory cards that writers of older Pakistani languages sent out to the world.
These views were expressed by noted poetess, political, and social activist Fehmida Riaz. She was speaking as chief guest at the ceremony to honour the winners of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize 2010 at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture Thursday evening.
Ms Riaz said that these writers carried a big responsibility since they had to speak to audiences from the West where highly critical and analytical thinking was the order of the day. She reminded them of the difficulty such a role entailed in the present-day world given the turbulent times we all were living in, what with all the suicide bombings, the crippling ethnic and sectarian strife, the ever-deepening economic depression, and all the killings and mayhem.
It was amid this scenario, she said, that a heavy responsibility devolved on the writers in English to positively project their culture and their heritage, “A writer in English is such a novelty to the West”, she remarked.
Pakistan, she said, was a late starter in the field of English writers vis-â€¡-vis India and the gap had to be filled in, she said. However, she lauded the achievements of Pakistani writers.
The Best First Book Prize (regional) for 2010 was bagged by Danyal Moeenuddin for his work, “Other Rooms, other wonders”. The book is set mostly in southern Punjab.
British author, Rana Dasgupta, bagged the award for his “Solo”, a book that revolves around the memories and daydreams of Ulrich, a hundred years old blind man in Sofia in Bulgaria.
Noted journalist Muneeza Shamsie, Regional Chairperson of the Commonwealth Writers Prize, 2010, Committee, said that appreciation of different cultures was imperative to international understanding. She stressed the correlation between literature, art, culture, and architecture. Freedom of thought and expression, she said, was essential to nurturing an intellectually flowering society. She said this while announcing the setting up of the liberal arts department at the school.
Aisha Dar, head of the nascent liberal arts department, said that liberal arts fostered creativity, creative thinking, effective communication, strength of character, and a spirit of enquiry.
Muhammad Hanif, the first-ever Pakistani winner of the Commonwealth Prize in 2009, for his book, “A Case of Exploding Mangoes”, read portions from his book, including the one recounting the first meeting of General Ziaul Haq’s first cabinet meeting after clamping of martial law in 1977.
The portion was punctuated with highly witty and humorous remarks and quips and gave a humorous twist to an otherwise somber subject.
Noted television personality, Nimra Bucha, read passages from Danyal Moeenuddin’s book, “Other Rooms, Other Wonders”. It was a good presentation with Ms Bucha’s crisp accent, well-modulated voice, and effective cadences.
Another TV celebrity, Talat Hussain, read passages from “Solo” by British prize winner, Rana Dasgupta. Talat’s well-modulated voice, conforming to the rules of theatrics, gave a poignant colour to the passage he read. The programme was compered by noted TV talk show host, Ayesha (Tammy) Haq.
Source: The News