October 2010


Encouraging English language fiction in Pakistan

Huma Imtiaz
(1 hour ago) Today

launh543 Encouraging English language fiction in PakistanMohammed Hanif and Faiza S. Khan at the LUMS Sayeed Saigol Auditorium in Lahore. – Photo by Huma Imtiaz

LAHORE: On a chilly autumn night in Lahore, The Life’s Too Short Short Story Prize winners were introduced to dozens of literary enthusiasts at the LUMS Sayeed Saigol Auditorium.

Attended mainly by students and late 20-somethings, the event featured founder and editor ofThe Life’s Too Short Literary Review Faiza S. Khan and publisher, Aysha Raja, along with the winners of the prize, and the writers featured in the review. The celebrity guests at the event were authors Mohammed Hanif and Ali Sethi who offered commentary on writing fiction and judging such a competition.

Announced earlier this year, the winners were featured in a literary review titled, The Life’s Too Short Literary Review, which has been widely acclaimed by critics and readers around the country. Aysha Raja, co-founder of the prize and publisher of the review, told Dawn.com that the journal is now going into its second print run due to the phenomenal response they received. “We’ve also sold distribution rights to an Indian publisher and it will be hitting their shelves in the near future. Offers have also been received for selling the UK rights to the journal.”

In Pakistan, one is accustomed to seeing a handful of the usual names tossed around (namely Bapsi Sidhwa, Mohsin Hamid and Kamila Shamsie, among others) when talking about English fiction written by local authors. That is perhaps why it was refreshing to see six new faces – possibly the next generation of writers who can add diversity to select few English writers in the country.

The event kicked off with an introduction to the prize and review by Raja, followed by readings from the winners and contributors of the review.

Sadaf Halai, who won the first prize of Rs.100,000, told Dawn.com that it was wonderful that there was a journal that showcases writing in Pakistan. When asked what she did with the prize money, Halai said she bought her husband a computer, since she had used his for the past five years. “I also wrote the short story on his computer, so I think it was only fair to buy him one!”

Bilal Tanweer, who currently teaches a Mechanics of Fiction course at LUMS, says that the reason that Pakistan is not producing enough writers is because education is driven away from the humanities. “We don’t have enough of a literary culture. It is very exciting that we [finally] have a quality publication (like the review) in Pakistan, something that we can put in front of the world.”

According to contributor Mehreen Ajaz, one of the biggest challenges aspiring writers face is the lack of writing groups where one can get constructive criticism. Madiha Sattar, senior assistant editor at the Herald, whose story Ruth and Richard deals with a failed marriage and the longing for the Karachi of one’s childhood, says this was her first attempt at writing fiction. Speaking at the event, she said New York, where her story is set, left a lasting impression on her, as has Karachi, where she has primarily resided.

When asked about his decision to become a judge for the competition, Mohammed Hanif said: “I thought I should become a judge [because] at that time, judges used to be our heroes, that is when I thought I should become one too.” Asked what he was disappointed by in the selection of stories that were sent to him, Hanif wryly added, “There wasn’t enough sex and violence.”

Ali Sethi offered critique and praise for the contributors and their efforts, and provided valuable insight into the clichés that pervade South Asian literature, especially when writing about food.

Khan announced the panel of judges for the next competition: authors Mohsin Hamid, Sara Suleri and Musharraf Ali Farooqui. According to Khan, “The biggest problem we had with the entries was that it showed that people do no read enough and lack very basic writing skills. However, I was thrilled by the sheer number of entries and in some cases, the story was so strong that the fact that it was weak in terms of language didn’t stand in its way.”

After each reading by the winners and contributors, which was followed by a brief question-and-answer among the panel, the event quickly came to a close an hour after it began. However, one felt that the audience was deprived of interacting with the participants, which might have helped them understand more about the writers’ fears of being published for the first time and the problems one faces. Nevertheless, with the second Life’s Too Short Short Story Prize now accepting contributions and plans are in place for a second issue of the review, it is a relief to note that an endeavour like this is not limited to a one-time effort, and will shine a long needed spotlight on fresh literary talent.

Entries for the second round of competition can be sent at lifestooshortentry@gmail.com and the deadline is March 31, 2011.

Huma Imtiaz works as a journalist in Pakistan and can be reached athuma.imtiaz@gmail.com

 

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Keeping it short and sweet

The panel at the Life’s Too Short Literary Review launch at LUMS Syed Saigol auditorium. photo: abid nawaz

LAHORE: Over the past five or six years Pakistan has come into international focus in a big way. More often than not the attention has been for all the wrong reasons. So it is encouraging when the focus is directed away from suicide blasts and political mishaps to art and literature.

This was the overwhelming consensus of the contributors, editors and judges of the Life’s Too Short Review 01, which has received national and international attention since it was published two months ago.

“We’ve tried to unequivocally avoid two things: teenage angst and suicide blasts,” said Faiza S Khan, the editor of the review. “There’s plenty of stuff out there about how ‘dangerous’ Pakistan is and this was our chance to present another side to us.”

The Life’s Too Short print edition follows up on winning entries from last year’s popular short story competition of the same name. Mohammad Hanif, author of the bestselling A Case of Exploding Mangoes and one of the judges of the competition, said he was thrilled to see the winning stories in print.

“I have always been a bit of a literary voyeur and a short story just holds so much potential. It can always become something more,” said Hanif. “This was the first time I was ever asked to judge anything and given that it was two years ago  ‘judges’ were pretty popular back then  I figured it couldn’t be too bad.”

The official launch of the review was organised by the LUMS humanities and social sciences department and brought together many of the contributors to the print edition. The writers read out excerpts of their work to a large and appreciative audience.

The editors and writers all stressed that they were very aware of the fact that Pakistan is in the limelight at present. “There is so much going on that involves us that it is affecting both how the international community views us and how we view ourselves. The key is to take back the narrative and direct it ourselves,” said associate editor Maheen Pracha.

The writers said that in some ways, the Life’s Too Short review could be set against the much talked about recent Granta literary issue on Pakistan. The former takes an insider’s perspective of the country and the latter reiterates – to a great extent – the hype regarding the ‘most dangerous country in the world’, as Pakistan was once dubbed by Newsweek.

“It’s not like we don’t know that bombs are going off. It’s just that we have to live our lives around it,” said Bilal Tanweer, author of short story To Live. “It’s more of an inconvenience and a daily hiccup to our lives because, sadly, we are getting far too accustomed to it.”

Tanweer’s is the only story in the entire edition that mentions a bomb blast, that too in the background. “It’s a very offhand mention, almost like, ‘Oh dear there’s been a blast. How will I get my manicure?’” Khan said.

Life’s Too Short illustrates the literary renaissance Pakistan is undergoing. Whether this in the form of several English dailies that have been launched recently with websites and magazines that feature prominent blogs; writers groups and online workshops such as desiwriterlounge.net and Project A with its book clubs and open mic nights in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad; or online literary and commentary sites like The Missing Slate (TMS) and View Point, this is a good time to be a writer in Pakistan.

There is little in the way of reactionary dissidence in this magazine. It is by no means a literary foray into revolution, ala Russia or Latin America. Life’s Too Short is simply about finding voices that haven’t been heard and turning up the volume.

The magazine features new fiction writer Mehreen Ajaz’s story Baby, Settling Affairs by Rayika Choudri, Mir Sahib’s Hairdo by Danish Islam, Lucky People by Sadaf Halai, To Live by Bilal Tanweer, The Wedding by Sarwat Yasmeen Azeem, The Six-Fingered Man by Aziz A Sheikh, Ruth and Richard by Madiha Sattar and Not Another Voice by Bina Shah.

It is hard to explain why Pakistani fiction is experiencing such a kick-start. Some might think it is because the country is going though hard times, which automatically leads to retrospection and provides a desperate surge of impetus. Or it could be that these voices were always there and have finally been uncovered. Regardless, this new wave of writers emerging from the underground is reminiscent of the upsurge of South Asian fiction in the 1980s dubbed by many at the time as ‘The empire writes back’. Whatever the reason, one hopes that this is just the beginning to more and more Pakistanis finding and showcasing the inner author in them.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 28th, 2010.

 

The Life’s Too Short Literary Review is to be launched at the Sayeed Saigol Auditorium at LUMS on Tuesday, 26 October 2010 at 19:30

The occasion will feature readings and discussion with a panel of LTS winners, including Sadaf Halai, AA Sheikh, Mehreen Ajaz, Danish Islam, Madiha Sattar and Bilal Tanweer. The panel will also include the publisher Aysha Raja, editor Faiza S Khan and novelist Ali Sethi (The Wish Maker)

The occasion will also serve as an opportunity to launch the next year’s short story prize. Kindly contact lifestooshortentry@gmail.com for details.

How literary times change for Pakistan
By Razeshta Sethna
Saturday, 23 Oct, 2010

Dawn.com

KARACHI: In the past decade or so, Pakistani writers and writing coming out of the region is not only a celebration of immense talent but has been further solidified by the socio-political milieu that makes this country the one big story. Want the perfect scoop, better still a lucrative book deal? Come to Pakistan as a reporter is what foreign correspondents are telling these days: the story is right here. It’s the story of war, violence, terror but not without hope and without resilience of a kind that only Pakistanis can tell you about. At such a time when the country’s identity is not only complex but mangled, a well-timed issue of Granta devoted to literature, reportage and artworks from Pakistan appreciates the vibrant though diverse creative forces within society.

Granta 112:Pakistan was celebrated in Karachi at an event on Friday evening, organised by the British Council, only a month after its official launch in London at Asia House. Granta’s editor John Freeman was fired with some rather half-intelligent questions (that were answered with wit and honesty) as were the other panellists for the evening – Declan Walsh, reporter with The Guardian in Pakistan, Faiza Sultan Khan, editor of The Life’s Too Short literary journal, Mohammad Hanif, author of A Case of Exploding Mangoes, and Murtaza Razvi, an editor and writer with Dawn – all of whom agreed that many interesting writers come from South Asia and that the new clichés in fiction today are terrorism and beheadings. When asked why Pakistani writing was the focus for this issue, Freeman explained it was an idea that he was given by Australian novelist Peter Carey about a year and a half ago when he was in New York.

Granta’s autumn collection, with an exceptionally dazzling cover depicting work by truck artist Islam Gull, represents brutal forms of violence, militancy, and how reaction to the west has shred the internal fabric of Pakistani society, but with brilliant writing that dares to find traces of love, humanity and passion: all to tell the reader that’s a less visible road travelled but you only need to look for that portion of real Pakistan. It’s been almost impossible in the last few years to have picked up a newspaper and not read about Pakistan’s failings as a nation state, its war with fundamentalists, its internal corruption and its obsession with the US, all violent news stories. It may be a Pakistan moment as many writers claim and their stories are excruciating works of fiction cushioned in reality. Some stories are direct reminders of distorted historical legacy and conflict: Intizar Hussain’s “The House of the Gallows” portrays Zia-ul-Haq as a hypocritical dictator who turned the 1980s for most Pakistanis into a nightmare of censorship rules (“Please don’t read any poem that refers to liquor”).

Kashmiri author Basharat Peer’s “Forever War” is when he comes home to Srinagar — “a medieval city dying in a modern war” — and teenagers are hurling stones on city streets inspired by a Palestinian style stone-throwing intifada. Declan Walsh’s reportage (an excerpt from his forthcoming Inshallah Pakistan to be published early next year) takes us on a fractured journey with a flamboyant, multi-lingual, Pashtun politician from Lakki Marwat, a hub for suicide attackers in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa; lending an informed, layered context to the north’s “roasting hospitality, smouldering pride and cold and clinical revenge.”

Granta is indeed a window to a troubled world as Freeman says, but not without stories of love. The two most heart-wrenching stories are that of Leila unable to bear sons in Nadeem Aslam’s novella “Leila in the Wilderness,” and Gul Bibi in Jamil Ahmad’s “The Sins of the Mother,” whose short but sad spell of domestic happiness with her lover is described with endearing engagement, as she lives in the knowledge that her tribal kinsmen, whose code of honour she has defied, will eventually kill her. Seventy-nine-year-old ex-civil servant Ahmad was discovered by editor/journalist Faiza Sultan Khan and has never been published before but now has a book deal to his name.

In the book, Hari Kunzru in his introduction to the Green Cardamom art project says the question of Pakistani identity now has geopolitical significance. Pakistan today is about seeking balance between war and peace; extremism and tolerance; love and hate. Rather like Ayesha Jatoi, the artist in her quest to find answers settles her washing to dry on a publicly-installed decommissioned aircraft, to protest and subvert. As Freeman reminded on Friday evening he published writing that is beautiful and if it’s beautiful, then it’s true. Almost all stories come back to family and love, he explained.

Granta’s collection delves into some of the pressing issues of our time, making it a must-read book this season.

 

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/local/how-literary-times-change-for-pakistan-300

Books & Authors
Short and sweet
Reviewed By Huma Yusuf
Sunday, 22 Aug, 2010 | 03:49 AM PST |

The Life’s Too Short Literary Review, the first edition of a magazine featuring new Pakistani writing, is now on the stands. The cover illustration depicts a parked ambulance on a typical Pakistani street — implying perhaps that this review is a saviour for the ongoing literary boom, which threatens to go bust in the absence of local publishing
outlets.
Indeed, editor Faiza Khan declares at the outset that the review is on a mission to encourage, promote and discover new talent.
The inaugural edition is thus a collection of the best short stories submitted for the short story competition held last year and judged by Kamila Shamsie, Mohammed Hanif and Daniyal Mueenuddin. Evolving from the competition, the review boasts brand new voices to the local literary landscape — and the strength of some of the entries bodes well for the future of English-language fiction in Pakistan.
Sadaf Halai’s ‘Lucky People’ — the winning entry — is the most engrossing story. It tells the simple tale of Asma, a housewife who rents the ground floor of her house to a young, westernised couple. As she shares her space, Asma begins to articulate her silent frustrations — with her husband, their home, and lifestyle — by way of comparison with her hip tenants. In a few pages, Halai touches on the poignancy and pitfalls of familiarity, class difference, and existential musings, making her contribution a compelling read.
Rayika Choudri also introduces a sympathetic character in ‘Settling Affairs.’ This story is told from the point of view of Zaheer, a servant who remains loyal to his Begum Sahib for a decade, until her children throw him out with all her old things after her death.
Choudri’s entry was selected as the second runner-up in the competition, an award it deserves for describing the tender moments in which the relationship between servant and mistress evolved — the few lines that reveal how Zaheer came to bathe his employer are particularly moving.
Other stories in the review that benefit from strong characterisation and emotive power include Danish Islam’s ‘Mir Sahib’s Hairdo’ and Bina Shah’s ‘Not Another Voice.’ These stories also highlight the thematic and tonal variety of the review’s offerings: Islam’s piece is unpretentious and comic, relating the day in the life of a vain gentleman who succumbs to his wife’s nagging and dyes his snow-white hair with Kala Kola. Shah’s story, on the other hand, captures the disorientation and devastation that plague the mother of a stillborn child. The isolation and crisis of faith that confront the dead infant’s family is a far cry from Islam’s levity.
The entries that narrate life-changing episodes also make for good reading. In Sarwat Yasmeen Azeem’s ‘The Wedding,’ the joyful mock shaadi of two dolls enacted by a gaggle of excitable girls is interrupted by the real-life dissolution of one of their parents’ marriage. And in Aziz Sheikh’s ‘The Six-Fingered Man’ reality begins to seem more paranormal than a pir’s magic when a shrine is blown up in conflict-ridden Kashmir.
For the most part the stories are engaging and insightful, and manage to shake off — in Khan’s words — the ‘burden of representing the mythical Real Pakistan.’ Exceptions include ‘Baby,’ which feels derivative and adds little to the construction of an imagined Pakistan and ‘Ruth and Richard.’ The latter tries so hard not to falsely depict a ‘mythical Real Pakistan’ that it instead ends up describing a ‘mythical Real Manhattan’.
To justify describing itself as a review — rather than a short story anthology — the volume includes creative work in various genres. Particularly noteworthy is the well-illustrated excerpt from ‘Rabbit Rap’, an upcoming graphic novel by Musharraf Ali Farooqi and Michelle Farooqi.
With a nod to Art Spiegelman’s ‘Maus,’ it introduces a world of complacent rabbits, thereby critiquing contemporary approaches to corporate control and climate change. One looks forward to the complete work and hopes that it focuses on the individual stories of certain rabbit characters.
There is also a well-printed photo essay by Attiq Uddin Ahmed comprising iconic and amusing images of graffiti, billboards and neon signs from around Karachi. An archive section includes a scanned excerpt of early scribbles that eventually became Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Hamid’s notes on structure — particularly his question about whether to conclude the novel with a ‘Borgesian solution’ — are bound to provoke anxiety among aspiring writers who do not have equally lofty first drafts.
Finally, the most titillating offering in the review is ‘Challawa,’ an excerpt from a local serialised ‘pulp fiction’ story by Sabiha Bano. Hanif’s translation from the original Urdu is clever, lively and appropriately naughty without becoming tongue-in-cheek.
However, beyond relying on the story’s shock value, the editors should have made an effort to contextualise the translation by providing some information about where, when and how the original was published and for which audience.
For those invested in the growth of a Pakistani literary canon in English, this is a much-needed and most welcome publication. One only hopes that, unlike previous literary reviews (some may remember the effort by Alhambra), this one is able to keep up the momentum and publish new works of quality with some frequency.

The Life’s Too Short Literary Review 01: The magazine of new writing from Pakistan
(SHORT STORIES)
Edited by Faiza S. Khan
Siren Publications, Lahore
ISBN 978-969-9251-18-4
114pp. Rs395

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/in-paper-magazine/books-and-authors/short-and-sweet

The new wave

Pakistan’s most promising, up-coming writers in one book

By Huma Imtiaz

 

The Life’s Too Short Literary Review 01

The Magazine of New Writing from

Pakistan

Publisher: Siren Publications

Pages: 114

Price: PKR 395

Sponsored by the Zohra and ZZ Ahmed Foundation, and published in collaboration with the British Council, the Life’s Too Short Literary Review is a far more pleasurable read than the words, “literary review” and ”in collaboration with the British Council” might suggest. A medley of writings with a photo essay, a handwritten note and an excerpt of a graphic novel thrown in, the greater part of this journal is made up of short stories that won the Life’s Too Short short story competition held earlier this year, judged by authors Daniyal Mueenuddin, Kamila Shamsie and Mohammed Hanif.

The winner of the competition was Sadaf Halai’s Lucky People, with Aziz A Sheikh’s The Six-Fingered Man and Rayika Choudri’s Settling Affairs in second and third place. In Lucky People, a housewife is perplexed by the lifestyle of her new tenants, members of Pakistan’s media-boom middle class. Halai’s greatest skill lies in her subtlety. Class conflict and stories of modernity encountering traditionalism always run the risk of sounding hackneyed as so many writers have taken on these themes, and often quite badly. Halai’s voice is refreshing in its simplicity and emotional intelligence and is worthy of the first place award.

That said, Aziz A. Sheikh, with his poignant tale The Six-Fingered Man, is the author to watch out for. His story of two young boys idling away their days in games and adventures while growing up in war-torn Kashmir is an exceptionally accomplished story from a new writer and reminds one of the struggle that children must go through daily in the valley; trying to find new adventures while being ever aware of the bombs, gunfire and violence. One hopes Sheikh is working on a novel as he clearly deserves a large readership.

The themes in the anthology range from birth, death, a doll’s wedding, trouble with the domestics, callous boyfriends, a romance with an exploding bomb as the backdrop, the vanity of old age, and people considered Pakistan experts abroad. Written for a local audience, Orientalist exotica, or as author H.M Naqvi once described it, the waft of tamarind, is conspicuous by its absence in the review and this sets apart the anthology from much of the writing one comes across in the Subcontinent.

But while most of the authors have managed to succeed in bringing a new touch to old themes, it is unfortunate that the anthology chose to end with its weakest story, Bina Shah’s Not Another Voice, which feels dated and attempts to disseminate information where it should instead have aimed to create more convincing characters. Ms. Shah, less religion, more work on developing the plot.

The photo essay, Sign Your Name Across My Heart by Attiq Uddin Ahmed, shows up some of Pakistan’s lesser-known wonders, highlighting the absurd and hilarious sights one comes across in Pakistan. For literary junkies, there is a page from author Mohsin Hamid’s notebook, featuring a page charting out the course of what became The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Author Musharraf Ali Farooqui takes a break from translating of Urdu fantasy novels and is featured here penning the words for Rabbit Rap, an upcoming graphic novel.

And for those that like their fiction with a dose of masala, a must-read is the excerpt from Sabiha Bano’s Challawa, a long-running story from the world of Urdu digests. Translated from Urdu to English by author Mohammed Hanif. Racy and amusing, Challawa makes for a rollicking read and is sure to create a buzz amongst those who are unaware of the original.

Although one does not wish to be overly critical of a brave effort by the publishers, one wonders about the lack of poetry or non-fiction in the anthology, and hopes that the second issue will see more from these two important genres of literature.

Edited by columnist Faiza S. Khan and published by Aysha Raja, the owner of the Last Word chain of bookstores who together run their publishing house Siren Publications, the first issue of The Life’s Too Short Literary Review impresses with its design, and serves as a reminder that there are many talented authors in the country, waiting to be discovered and now there is a place for that to happen.

It is also heartening to learn from the publishers that the next Life’s Too Short short story prize is not a one-time effort and that this year’s prize is open for entries again, with Mohsin Hamid coming on as judge and two more to be confirmed in the weeks to come.

The Life’s Too Short Literary Review 01 is available at The Last Word in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. Entries for the next competition can be sent to lifestooshortprize@gmail.com

Huma Imtiaz works as a journalist in Pakistan and can be reached at huma.imtiaz@gmail.com

http://jang.com.pk/thenews/aug2010-weekly/nos-29-08-2010/lit.htm#2

In February last year, a local writer and editor, Faiza S Khan, and the owner of a smart, independent bookshop, Aysha Raja, inaugurated the The Life’s Too Short Short Story Prize.

This was an open short story prize with a cash prize of Rs100,000 and judging panel of Pakistani literary heavyweights Mohammed Hanif, Daniyal Mueenuddin and Kamila Shamsie, and the prize for 2010 has just been announced with Mohsin Hamid as the first confirmed judge. Last year, many promises were made about the winning selection being published in a literary journal, the duo remained conspicuously silent after announcing the winners, Sadaf Halai, Aziz A Sheikh and Rayika Choudri. Just when it was beginning to seem like a vanity project abandoned halfway, the promised journal surfaced and is now available at Raja’s bookshop, The Last Word, in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad.

The publication also marks the maiden project from Raja and Khan’s publishing house, Siren, complete with sexy pink logo, which aims to start with this periodical and move into publishing both fiction and non-fiction from Pakistani writers. The Life’s Too Short Literary Review features a yellow cityscape with a large white ambulance superimposed onto it, consistent with the somewhat alarmist theme of its title.

It is at first glance entirely different in tone from most of the literary periodicals from this region, being playful and bold, as opposed to dry and stodgy. Made up of nine stories and some tidbits, Bina Shah is the only recognisable name amongst the short story writers, the rest have either not published before or in a very limited capacity, and as such the prize fulfilled its brief of providing a forum for new writers. Most of all, it’s entertaining; a virtue the South Asian literary journal too often doesn’t pay enough attention to.

While first prize went to Sadaf Halai for her subtle, perceptive and superbly understated story of class conflict, Lucky People, the real stand out is Sheikh’s Six-Fingered Man, a coming of age story set in Kashmir. It is hard to imagine that this is somebody’s first attempt at fiction, so confident is his prose and so tender the characterisation, with a lyricism that never, ever succumbs to the maudlin. Other exceptional stories in this collection include the first, Baby, by creative writing graduate Mehreen Ajaz, not only for its stark prose and brave subject matter but also for being a short story by a Pakistani writer that doesn’t lean on Pakistan to attract attention — it is a story about two people which could be set anywhere, and this is more rare than one would imagine in Pakistani fiction. A delightfully quirky addition to this collection is Danish Islam’s, Mir Sahib’s Hairdo, a comic fable that appears very much to draw upon the conventions of Urdu literature.

Along with the nine selected stories, the review also features an excerpt of Pakistan’s first graphic novel, Rabbit Rap, by Musharraf and Michelle Farooqi, another sign that Pakistani writing has moved on and can now be confident and playful and bold and relevant without having to live within the narrow strictures it’s inhabited for the last so many years. And in the tradition of saving the best for last, The Life’s Too Short Review also features a short excerpt from a serialised Urdu story dating back to the 60s, Challawa, a lurid pulp classic, translated into English by Mohammed Hanif, who appears to have carried out this task tongue firmly in cheek.

Selling for under Rs 400, and well worth it, The Life’s Too Short Literary Review, if maintained, has the potential to be an influential voice in Pakistani publishing and needs to expand to reach that potential — currently it ignores poetry, which one can forgive, but also non-fiction, which is much harder to overlook.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 8th, 2010.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/34802/short-and-sweet/

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