Encouraging response to literature promotion events noted at HLF
HYDERABAD: People should be encouraged to read more and more books and know about and understand our literature and relevance of books. There is a dire need for holding more literary festivals and discussing literature. Literature festivals should be held in every city and village of Sindh.
This was the crux of a session on ‘books and literature festivals’ at the three-day Hyderabad Literature Festival (HLF), which got under way at Sindh Museum on Friday.
The session was addressed by pioneer of Karachi Literature Festival (KLF) and Oxford University Press (OUP) managing director Ameena Sayid and Dr Asif Farrukhi, a critic, writer and translator.
Dr Farrukhi expressed the view that such festivals would help people of other countries understand Pakistan. “We need to read our literature more and more and understand relevance of books. There is also need to discuss our literature,” he said. He observed “we have ridiculed writers on television and do not represent them respectably. “Through such festivals we learn the lesson of respect for literati,” he stated candidly to a question raised by moderator Yasir Kazi.
According to Dr Farrukhi sessions in the KLF revolve around those personalities who are discussed in society although they may not be celebrities now, considering that such individuals are not part of our syllabus. “We didn’t have any session on Shakespeare but it can’t demean this celebrated profile,” he said.
“We tend to hold sessions on poet Habib Jalib as he is yet to become part of syllabus. Aren’t we helping dictatorship by keeping [Habib] Jalib out of syllabus. So we are trying to change this trend through such festivals.”
About a series of books on Sindhi celebrated writers, Ameena Sayid said that OUP wanted to publish their books in English to discover personalities like Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai, Sheikh Ayaz and Allama Daudpota for western readers. She said that OUP did publish some books of such writers in Sindhi but they didn’t get an encouraging response. “We need a market for such books,” she said.
She quoted another example. “Celebrated Urdu author Quratulain Hyder didn’t delegate copyrights with the result that western readers don’t know her although she could have won Nobel prize if such literature was translated into English,” she said and added that the author had herself started translation of her work.
She said that a turnout of 200,000 was recorded in the last KLF while it had just 5,000 people in first event. “We are learning how to improve further as there is always room for improvement,” she said, and explained that the purpose of holding KLF was to accord due status to our writers and other literati. “Our writers are like rock stars,” she said and reminisced that she was just delighted to see a large crowd following celebrated writer Mustansar Hussain Tarar.
Sayid observed that such occasions helped people develop interest in book reading as readers later on could become writers as well. She wished that festivals like KLF should be held in every village and city of Sindh. “Literature festivals have become a movement for entire Pakistan and we are ready to guide anyone,” she said. There is a dire need for encourage people for book reading and results are positive indicating huge sales of books in fairs on the sidelines of festivals, according to her.
Dr Farrukhi disagreed with Kazi’s point that ‘reader’ in this society has died. “Had they died, I won’t have been sitting here and those who are clapping may not have been here,” he said, adding that actual problem was outreach of books had lessened over the years. “We need to rediscover books,” he said and noted that conferences and seminars were being replaced with such festivals.
He was critical of the fact that the media was interested only in spicy stuff. “Why don’t we tell people that Nafisa Shah has come up with a book or English translation of Jamal Abro’s short stories? We should bring excitement of book back to our society as this offers treatment to diseases afflicting our society,” he said.
Dr Farrukhi said that during his visit to Gawadar, he was told that 700,000 books were sold.
“So the reader is in fact maturing,” he said.
He said that in KLF more people attended session of Amar Jalil than film star Meera. Youths were excitingly taking selfies with Noorul Huda Shah which indeed matters. He said that it’s time to ponder why we couldn’t make Jamal Abro a household name.
Addressing the inaugural session of the HLF, Sindh Cultural Minister Sardar Ali Shah said: “In societies like ours it is considered a quality if you are discharging your responsibilities. Holding any position is in fact a responsibility. In a society where teachers are not ready to teach and doctors avoid providing treatment, people like Dr Adibul Hasan Rizvi are born”.
According to him, use of Facebook had become an incurable disease in Sindh and many writers of Sindh spend 18 hours a day updating their status so how would they produce some creative content. Moenjodaro has been cleared of all illegal occupation and culture department has carried out many works over the last one and a half year. He appreciated holding of the festival which he considered important for youth.
Noted writer Inam Shaikh said that Sindhis did not have anything of note to their credit in the past but it was the strength of their 3000-year-old culture that helped them overpower the invaders who themselves later became part of Sindhi society.
He said that parents of Iqbal Tareen, who had designed the flag of Jeay Sindh Tehreek, were in fact Afghans.
Discussing novels of Mohammad Usman Diplai in a session, former civil servant Gul Mohammad Umrani and Tehmina Mufti were critical of the fact that his five novels were banned during the One Unit era and even today only censored version was being taught at the University of Sindh.
Umrani described Diplai a leading light of resistance movement who effectively used fiction as a political weapon. He said that these five novels had become unique now.