Listening to and looking at Pakistan
This book is Uzma Aslam Khan's third novel. One of her goals as a woman and a Pakistani is to undo formulaic assumptions about her homeland as well as to aid in the struggle for self- ownership, self-representation, and intellectual recognition of women. She writes passionately about this purpose in her essay, "Women and Fiction Today."
She also urges her readers to understand the complexity that is Pakistan today by first admitting our preconceptions about it and then being willing to shed them; to listen and to look. Instead of only relying on our major news outlets, what should we listen to? Where should we look?
For a start listen to some qawali and Sufi music. At TheSufi.com
you can download free music in mp3 format and videos in mp4.
The Sabri Brothers perform qawali, a form of Sufi devotional music popular in South Asia, particularly in areas with a historically strong Muslim presence, such as southern Pakistan, and parts of North India. The style is rare, though not entirely absent, in North and West Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Kashmir. It is a musical tradition that stretches back more than 700 years.
Abida Parveen is a Pakistani singer and one of the foremost exponents of Sufi music. She sings mainly ghazals (a poetic form consisting of rhyming couplets and a refrain, with each line sharing the same meter), Urdu love songs, and her forte, Kafis, a solo genre accompanied by percussion and harmonium, using a repertoire of songs by Sufi poets. Mehwish, the blind sister in The Geometry of God, becomes a writer of ghazals.
Then read a poem by Faiz Ahmad Faiz, a Pakistani poet considered to be one of the most famous modern Urdu poets:
Speak, your lips are free.
Speak, it is your own tongue.
Speak, it is your own body.
Speak, your life is still yours.
See how in the blacksmith's shop
The flame burns wild, the iron glows red;
The locks open their jaws,
And every chain begins to break.
Speak, this brief hour is long enough
Before the death of body and tongue:
Speak, 'cause the truth is not dead yet,
Speak, speak, whatever you must speak.
Lastly, discover five notable Pakistani authors in the sidebar to Burnt Shadows.
Above: Islamabad at night
This article is from the January 13, 2010 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.
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