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English Fiction in Pakistan. Focus on Qaisra Shahraz

Textbook 2015 43 Pages

Literature - Basics

Excerpt

Acknowledgements:

A hard task is not yet over because “Miles to go before I sleep and miles to go before I sleep.” Life is a phase composed of different stages where both pleasant and unpleasant happenings do occur. So the theatre of the world is going on and will be continuous till the Day to come. I never thought that I would be able to complete this project because like universal life it is composed of different stages where one’s brain sometimes stops to work. In the same way at several stages I thought of giving up this book but the compulsions in life kept me continuing this work. Because sometime what one sees is that as much as a writer writes that much the world takes an ugly shape, so the writing in this or that way becomes a challenging process that of analyzing or working for criticism. I have read and seen a lot about Indian and other worldly literatures a lot but I find it difficult to get a book on Pakistani Literature that I don’t know whether it is the hostility in-between India and Pakistan that keep the literary texts at bay. So this idea and practice encouraged me to keep on the road taken less. So, the love and encouragement from my Siblings, friends and strangers from different parts of India have placed a zeal into it by founding it interesting that I should go by the road which is almost not taken, therefore, formed my closet in discomfort and comfort. Even it is difficult to take names one by one but I owe my gratitude to all those who have been with me from time to time.

My benefit was more in ways that I had a good interactions with my teachers like Dr. Shugufta Shaheen, Dr. Syed M. Haseebuddin Quadri and Dr. Shilpa and others particularly Dr. BA Nehvi, Dr. Aijaz Ashraf Dr. Late. Prof. AH. Tak and it is with their immense support and generous advices that I kept my track smooth. Scholars and students during seminars.

JNU, HCU, MANUU, EFLU, KU for keeping doors wide open.

My thanks to my Baba, Mama, Dr. Zulikha, Dr. Amani, Dr. Gousia.

Abstract:

Pakistan has undergone a series of seismic changes through its histories, as such, its literature has also seen many changes. The two main changes it witnessed was the rising stature of prose over poetry and drama and change in literacy content as reflected in growing predominance of political themes in Pakistani English language.

Pakistani Literature in English like other worldly literatures is gaining worldly fame and in this respect Pakistani writers particularly in English from time to time have shown their enthusiasm and loyal spirit to highlight the socio-economic, political, cultural problems of Pakistan in which it has lingered so far. Pakistan, being a Multi-ethnic country, has a diverse geography and culture and the people their belief in the feudal system, hierarchical power distribution, which historically is the product of the imperialistic country. The feudal-class are generally characterized as those who, know how to use religion to fulfil their selfish needs. Even though, when religion does not play a strong role in the lives of people, it has been used by feudal class to maintain its power and position. This class has always shown resistance towards the changes in the society. Pakistan has given a privileged position to the army, bureaucrats and the feudal lords. There has been conflict between the conservative and liberal set of people within the society of Pakistan as reflected by the conflicts and opposite thinking, taught in madrasa and westernized elite schools respectively. These two institutions carry two different and diametrically opposed worldview. Madrasas teaches its students the traditional, conventional sets of ideologies and Islamic ways of life, whereas the modern school teaches the ways of life based on modern setups. Later, English spread and gradually became a choice of medium for literary and intellectual expression for most of those writers who were educated in English or in elite institutions. Many writers chose to write in English, because of their personal desire to have a wider audience at a global level or of their upbringing in an elite ambience.

Though Pakistan has the 3rd largest English speaking population in the world, yet it is sad to find only few writers of English language. The seeds of Pakistani English literature can be traced back in its pre-independent or pre-partition era when English was introduced into the sub-continent (India) by the British colonial power in early 19th century to strengthen their rule. The growing prominence of English language prose fiction in Pakistan was something surprising due to the fact of a greater attraction for the poetry and drama before the arrival of prose fictions. Fiction began to receive its recognition in the latter parts of 20th century, though Pakistani English poetry was famous from very beginning and held a special place, in south Asian writings. Shahid Suhrawaida, Ahmed Ali, Alamgir Hashim, Taufiq Rafat, etc., are some renowned poets. The tradition of Pakistani English poetry further was followed by the trend of novels and the prose works of famous writers like Zulfiqar Ghose, Ahmed Ali and Bapsi Sidhwa.

Pakistan has been in a conflict of tradition vs modernity and how these two have made its drastic influence on the Pakistani society. The laws of tradition and modernity vary from place to place and even the Pakistani tradition in Pakistani aristocratic families has become a myth. So this book English Fiction in Pakistan with a focus of Qaisra Shahraz will try to make an effort to highlight the different modes of tradition vs modernity and how Shahraz has dealt with, and how society of Pakistan is being reflected in her works. Qaisra Shahraz got inspired by various feminist literary figures of the west like Virginia Woolf and as such, it inspired her to write about Pakistan and the status or position of women within Pakistani society. Shahraz is a Pakistan-British novelist as she was born in Pakistan and migrated to Britain at the age of nine with her family and as such lives in Manchester since then with her family and career. Besides being a novelist, she is a scriptwriter, college inspector, teacher trainer, education consultant and freelance Journalist. She has done her Master’s in European literature and scriptwriting. She worked as an advisor for the University of Lancaster. She is a member of the Royal society of Arts of the former director of Gatehouse Books, Publishing books written by the students for skills for life classes. She has worked as a host and trainer on Quality Education in Pakistan and India through British Council. For three years she worked as an employee at Gatehouse Books on the main project entitled Meditating and Marginalities /Moving Manchester. In 2012, she was recognised as one of 100 influential Pakistan women in Pakistan power. She is also well known for her famous Pakistan drama serial broadcasted on Pakistani Television and on Prime Television 2003 named ‘Dil-hi to Hai (The Heart is it) which deals with dyslexia. And second serial Tauheeen (Insult) focuses on cancer.

Sharaz has so far written three novels - The Holy woman (Fated to Love) (2001) Typhoon (Love’s Fury) (2003) and Revolt (2013). She is working on her fourth novel The Henna Painter. Qaisra Shahraz as a diasporic author and a multilingual intellectual, who represents the new age Muslim woman, shares her experiences of living as a Muslim woman with multiple identities in Britain. She knows English, Urdu, Punjabi, Hindi, French and German. She studied English and classical civilization at university of Manchester and went on to gain two master degrees at University of Salford - in English and European literature and The Scriptwriting for Television

and Radio. She has hosted and led many workshops and seminars in creative writings in UK as well as abroad; as an educationist, and quality improvement manager for Manchester, Adult Education service and a consultant in education, and registered college inspector for the Adult learning inspectorate and OFSTEC. As a Journalist, she has contributed features and articles to various magazines and newspapers and has had several short stories published in UK and abroad in particular schools anthologies in Germany. She has written three novels and several short stories, that later were compiled in a single book named A Pair of Jeans. Moreover, a critical analysis of her work features in a book entitled The Holy the Unholy Critical Essays on Qaisra

Shahraz’s Fiction (2011). She throughout her writings in one or the other way has raised the problems of some social evils and problems of women that reflect in both westerns part of world as well as in the society of present Pakistan.

Culture, art, civilization, and Literature are interlinked in multiple ways, even if we say that Literature in itself is a depiction of whole will never be a hyperbole because literature portrays everything i.e., the social, economic, political and historical facts and brings them to fight social evils. It shows the course of world history where it goes. In order to depict the worldly affairs, novelists, dramatists, poets, etc., write about these happenings. In this way they show a framework of different spheres of the world. Therefore, Pakistani Literature in English in this respect is no exception and like other world literatures, Pakistani writers particularly in English from time to time have shown their enthusiasm and loyal spirit to highlight the socio-economic, political, cultural problems of Pakistan in which it has lingered so far. The writers whether in a diasporic voice or who never left their country have always been obsessed with the spirit of ‘Pakistaniat’, i.e. the patriotic spirit. This patriotic enthusiasm have not kept them behind from other worldly writers whether English, American, African, Caribbean, or other third world literatures. Pakistani writers have made a diverse effort to fill the colour of cultural, historic and other colours that Pakistan is composed of as Nazim Hikmat sings in the lines beautifully:

My country

I don’t have any caps left made back home

Nor any Shoes that trod your Roads

I’ve worn out your last shirt quite long ago

Now you only remain in the whiteness of my hair Intact in my heart

Now you only remain in the whiteness of my hair In the lines of my forehead

My Country (qtd in Bhutto).

Pakistan, being a Multi-ethnic country, has a diverse geography and culture and the people there believe in the feudal system, hierarchical power distribution, which historically is the product of the imperialistic country. As such strengthening the feudal system in rural areas and making land alienable and granting the feudal and tribal leaders absolute ownership, thus, empowering them. Almost all Pakistani novelists have written and dealt with feudal class in their works. The feudal-class are generally characterised as those who, know how to use religion to fulfil their selfish needs. Even though, when religion does not play a strong role in the lives of people, it has been used by feudal class to maintain its power and position.

Literature is the product of what the history, political and social conditions of a geographical location endows a writer of that particular time. So, in this respect Pakistani society has traditionally been a hierarchal and patriarchal Society. In Pakistan the feudal class has conventionally enjoyed all possible privileges which controls all resources of Pakistan. It has control on vast acres of land and education. English language has been found preserved within feudal class. This class has always shown resistance towards the changes in the society. Pakistan has given a privileged position to the army, bureaucrats and the feudal lords. There has been conflict between the conservative and liberal set of people within the society of Pakistan as reflected by the conflicts and opposite thinking, taught in madrasa and westernized elite schools respectively. These two institutions carry two different and diametrically opposed worldview. Madrasas teaches its students the traditional, conventional sets of ideologies and Islamic ways of life, whereas the modern school teaches the ways of life based on modern setups. Later, English spread and gradually became a choice of medium for literary and intellectual expression for most of those writers who were educated in English or in elite institutions. Many writers chose to write in English, either of their personal desire to have a wider audience at a global level or because of their upbringing in an elite ambience. English language has been considered a universal language and necessity of every person globally to know and understand English, as it enjoys the top and prestigious position in almost every part of world as, Frantz Fanon argues that “…mastery of language affords remarkable power” (qtd in Sharp 31).

Though Pakistan has the 3rd largest English speaking population in the world, yet it is sad to find only few writers of English language. Before we study the history of Pakistan English literature it is important for us to know how the English language was introduced into Pakistan. The seeds of Pakistani English literature can be traced back in its pre-independent or pre-partition era when English was introduced into the sub-continent (India) by the British colonial power in early 19th century to strengthen their rule. With the spread of British Raj, local influentials adopted it as the means to show their superiority over the colonized. Later, English language was introduced as the powerful tool of imperialists, as it spread and gradually became a choice of medium for literary and intellectual expression for most of these writers, who were educated in English or in elite institutions. Many writers chose to write in English, either of their personal desire to have a wider audience at a global level or because of their upbringing in an elite ambience. English language has been considered a universal language and necessity of every person globally to know and understand English, as it enjoys the top and prestigious position in almost every part of world as, Frantz Fanon argues that “…mastery of language affords remarkable power” (qtd in Sharp 31).

After Pakistan’s independence, both parts (the present India and Pakistan), continue to hold the tradition of writing in English. Though, the British physically set India free from the clutches of imperialism, yet, it exceptionally has imperialized the globe through the medium of its language. British rule in India lasted for almost 200 years, the area which lie in Pakistan Sindhu, Baluchistan, Quetta, Punjab etc., presently were among the last to be colonized and annexed. As such English had less time to become part of local cultures. Yet it is being used as the medium of instruction in many elitist schools and in higher education universities, higher judiciary, prestigious newspapers, radio, and entertainment. In 1947 upon Pakistan’s establishment English became Pakistan-de-facto official language, the position of which was formalised in the constitution of 1973. Though English and Urdu are the current official languages of the country, yet, English language continues as the language of power till date.

History of English language in Pakistan depicts its presence in through India, during the British Raj, when the Christian missionaries came to India with the intention of spreading their religion and make the colonised people communicate with their colonizers. Moreover, through the policies of Macaulay, which disseminated the British culture and traditions at the expense of indigenous conventions and living paradigms, in his famous ‘Minutes on Indian Education’ of 1835 where he stressed that, “…We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern; a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions in morals, and in intellect” (qtd. in Keen314).Later on, birth of the reformists, great educationist and fundamentalists further formed schools of Anglicists and orientalists. English flourished and dominated the colonies though gradually, but firmly as the means of social advancement. A time reached, when English was accepted as language of government, of social elite and of the national press.

The departure of British could not erase the remnants of the colonial rule. When the British left, they left behind a new creed of brown “sahibs’’ to rule and govern the developing country. Pakistan apparently has class based lives and a love-hate relationship with English language. Some people considered English language as a colonial hangover and some thought of it as desiring the progress and social elevation by acquisition of English language as Muneeza Shamsie in an essay Complexities of Home and Homeland in Pakistan English Poetry and Fiction observes:

The universal nature of Islamic philosophy has meant that many Pakistani English writers have perceived themselves in international terms, yet identified with Pakistan. Also, Pakistani English writing and Indian English writing have strong echoes: they share a common history. They are linked to trends in Anglo-American literature too and that of Commonwealth countries where English was acquired due to the colonial encounter. So you have a body of work created by a myriad of influences. Perhaps that cultural synthesis, the blurring of definition is identity (Lal 256).

Interestingly Pakistani English literature has started emerging and flourishing successfully, winning critical acclaims and is also becoming the object of scrutiny under the microscope of various literary theories, and started earning its name on an international platform. As Asma Mansoor in the introduction of her paper The Notes of a New Harp: Tracing the Evolution of Pakistani Poetry in English writes:

Pakistan has been a melting pot of various cultures, religions and ideologies which have all been sublimated into the crystalline residuum of literatures in various languages. With a luxuriant cultural substratum, the literature produced here displays a dazzling variety. Urdu, Hindi, Pashto, Panjabi, Sindhi literature, etc., each in its own right flaunts a rich literary heritage. However, this development has not been restricted to the indigenous literatures of the land alone. Interestingly, Pakistani Literature in English has also evolved into a widening genre that is winning critical acclaim and is also becoming the object of scrutiny under the microscope of various literary theories. While Pakistani writers of fiction in English have monumentally chiselled their names on the international literary scene, Pakistani poets writing in English have yet to crest to the same prominence (1).

The growing prominence of English language prose fiction in Pakistan was something surprising due to the fact of a greater attraction for the poetry and drama before the arrival of prose fictions. Fiction began to receive its recognition in the latter parts of 20th century, though Pakistani English poetry was famous from very beginning and held a special place, in south Asian writings.

Shahid Suhrawaida, Ahmed Ali, Alamgir Hashim, Taufiq Rafat, etc., are some renowned poets. The tradition of Pakistani English poetry further was followed by the trend of novels and the prose works of famous writers like Zulfiqar Ghose, Ahmed Ali and Bapsi Sidhwa.

Pakistan has undergone a series of seismic changes through its histories, as such, its literature has also seen many changes. The two main changes it witnessed was the rising stature of prose over poetry and drama and change in literacy content as reflected in growing predominance of political themes in Pakistani English language. As Ameena Saiyid in her article The case of Exploding Pakistani Literature writes:

As elsewhere in south Asia, creative writing in English language is not new development in Pakistan. However, it has been largely over the last two decades that Pakistan Literature in English has achieved prominence and has come firmly into focus of world literature consciousness (Lobo P.no NP). http://www.dnaindia.com/lifestyle/report-the-case-of-exploding-pakistani- literature-1908332)

With the passage of time, the greater scope of Pakistani English literature and its international exposure has continuously encouraged many young writers from both within and outside Pakistan. Pakistani English literature is now finding much wider readership within Pakistan, because of the fact that the speaking and reading English language is a popular medium of communication. Pakistani literature in English today is found to be the product of fractures, disorder, incoherence and instability of political history and the defining themes most explored by these writers are generally related to identity complexity of country’s new and old history; politics and the complexity of the country’s present situation from that described in Tariq Rehman’s earlier work History of Pakistan Literature in English in which he has remarked on abundance of political content in Pakistani writing.

Pakistani fiction deals often with politics. Yet, it also deals with many other themes and issues like the feudal class life, their using and misusing religion to fulfil their needs and maintain their powers and position in the society. It also deals with social issues, regarding domestic violence as well as evil traditions beliefs and superstitions. It also deals with the demystifying of the western notions and Islamophobic notions of the western world, the cosmopolitan cities of Pakistan and the modern villages. The contemporary fiction by female novelists have dealt widely with female issues in patriarchal society of Pakistan, right to marriage, right to education, rising

position of the educated young generation which stands as a threat to upper feudal classes, right to equality and right to birth etc. Moreover, it has begun to pay heed to the way of educating the audience with words of wisdom and inspiring people to read and write as such stepping ahead to get the rights of expression and freedom.

Anglophone writers have dealt with many themes through their writings addressing wide range of issues, for example, Kamila Shamsie’s novel Brunt Shadows deals with war situation and diaspora theme after the US Bombing of Nagasaki in 1945. It deals with the subject of identity crisis, and the dynamic nature of identity of an individual which transcends across boundaries of time and space. Sara Suleri’s autobiographical novel, Meatless Days is a critique of subordinated position of women within Pakistan society. Shamsie’s and Suleri’s novels have been chiefly political and contain religious discourses at both national and international level. Similarly Bapsi Sidhwa’s Ice Candy Man and The Pakistani Bride. And Qaisra Shahraz’s Fated to Love (The Holy Woman), Love’s Fury (Typhoon) and Revolt deals with the domestic and social issues of women within Pakistani society.

However, the political novels from post-colonial till date have dealt with issues like migration, exile, diaspora, about Pakistani life in city of Karachi, political history of treating issues that prevailed during the partition of India and Pakistan as found in novels of Bapsi Sidhwa, Maniza Naquvi, Sorraya Khan etc. For instance Sorraya Khan’s Noor is an important work that deals with the war of 71 and separation of East Pakistan and how terrorism is related to Pakistan. Politics on the administrative level as well as in personal lives is depicted in Kamila Shamsie’s novel Burnt Shadows which moves its plot according to the political movements across the world. The first movement deals with the effect of Japanese war, the next discusses colonial rule in India, when Pakistan was still an integral part of India and the next deals with instance of Pakistan and destructive regime of General Zia-ul-haq. Lastly it deals with the event (historical event) after 9/11. Many other novels by different writers have dealt with the worries, tensions and dilemma that educated class of Muslims, faced in west after 9/11 when the Twin Towers were collapsed. In this respect Pakistani fiction tried a lot to break the stereotypical notion about Pakistan. Pakistan is not only land of fundamentalism but rich in its music, extravagant parties as seen in various writings of Maha Kahn, Mohsin Hamid, Hanif Kureishi and Qaisra Shahraz.

[...]

Details

Pages
43
Year
2015
ISBN (eBook)
9783656957492
ISBN (Book)
9783656957508
File size
1.1 MB
Language
English
Catalog Number
v299262
Grade
Tags
english fiction pakistan focus qaisra shahraz

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Title: English Fiction in Pakistan. Focus on Qaisra Shahraz