Beggar at Ghazi Chowk


Why Taboo is Good.

1 Apr 2010

For those near or around London this would definitely be an interesting talk to go to.

The ‘Pakistani Literati’

8 April 2010, 19:00
Ondaatje Wing Theatre
Tickets: £5/£4 concessions and Gallery Supporters

Award winning authors Kamila Shamsie (Burnt Shadows), Daniyal Mueenuddin (In Other Rooms, Other Wonders) and Ali Sethi (The Wish Maker) discuss their books and the contemporary geopolitics that have changed the world’s awareness of their country and their writing. Chaired by Moni Mohsin, author (Diary of a Social Butterfly) and columnist for Pakistan’s Daily Times.

This is a new generation of Pakistani English writers, all in the same boat as Mohsin Hamid who I wrote about earlier. The language barrier with most of the population has allowed them to talk about subjects that were and still are taboo. I have read Daniyal Mueenuddin’s award winning debut, and I must say it’s brilliantly written and brutally honest.

It exposes the faults in the culture of both urban and rural Pakistan, rich and the poor. But the overall movement is that of writers being able to handle the faults of Pakistan’s culture, and hoping to reconcile with them.

Pakistani artists have often met with criticism for not dealing with the faults of their own culture. And these efforts, exploring the uneasy realities of many areas of Pakistan, alcohol, drugs and sexual relations are not just exposing the anti-stereotype of Pakistan’s image. It is equally an effort to acknowledge where and how Pakistan has drifted from its true identity.

Moni Mohsin’s book is another interesting read, though a whole different kind of read. It is satirical, hilarious, and an honest jibe at a Western wannabe in Pakistans mod-squad cites. Mod-squad is colloquial for people who try to be modern, hence “mod” squad.

Anyway, while the books may be considered somewhat against Pakistan’s traditional art forms (which is not true by the way, more on that later) they are still a positive change. It is really nice to see them being respected outside as well.