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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Bangladesh, India & Pakistan writers on 1971

Fault Lines: Stories of 1971
Ed. Niaz Zaman and Asif Farrukhi
University Press Ltd.
Dhaka, Bangladesh

Finally the book is out! Fault Lines: Stories of 1971 edited by Niaz Zaman and Asif Farrukhi has been published by the University Press, Dhaka and is being distributed by Oxford University Press in Pakistan. Copies are already available in Karachi bookstores.

Fault Lines includes 37 stories from Bangladesh and Pakistan. It also includes stories written in/ from USA, Britain and India related to the events of 1971. This is probably the first time that stories from both sides of the divide are presented together and such a proposition is not without difficulties, as the introduction highlights. The stories from Pakistan include stories written in Urdu, English, Sindhi and Punjabi.

The writers whose work is selected include such prominent names as Intizar Husain, Masood Ashar, Asad Mohammed Khan, Hassan Manzar, Ibrahim Jalees, Masood Mufti, Amar Jaleel, Umme Umara, Saleem Akhtar, Tariq Rehman, and Ahmed Salim among others. The translators include Muhammad Salim ur Rahman, Durdana Soomro, Samina Rahman and Shah Mohammed Pirzada. The stories from Bangladesh include the work of Urdu writers Gholam Mohamed and Ahmed Saadi, voices often ignored or avoided. One of the most poignant stories for me is by Mohan Kalpana, the Sindhi writer, who was born in Karachi but migrated to India after 1947 and it is from this perspective of shifting boundaries that he ahs written his story.

Apart from the hard work and trekking down of stories, the introduction was particularly difficult and painful to write. After much debate (some of it rather heated) Niaz Zaman and I decided to write our separate versions. We understand that this book may rake up painful memories on both sides, but we hope that it does more than create controversies. We hope that there is debate and discussion leading to a better understanding of not simply the political events but the stories of the people who were affected by the events.

As you can imagine this has been a tough going but a very interesting one, which has made me “read” 1971 again and try to look at it with a fresh or different perspective. #

Fault Line: Stories of 1971 is available with Vedam

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