Why is Pakistan alienated by the global literati?


Arundhati Roy once said:

“[…] Writing is an incredible act of individualism, producing your language, and yet to use it from the heart of a crowd as opposed to as an individual performance is a conflicting thing.”

Roy, like many other authors of Indian descent has won a multitude of literary prizes, including the esteemed Man Booker Prize for Fiction. Which is why when India wasn’t nominated this year, it came as a blow to the world. This consternation, in my opinion, represented something far deeper for Pakistan: the alienation we face from the global literati, a sentiment the writers from this side of the border have come to accept.

On the 25th of October, the Booker for 2016 was awarded to the USA’s Paul Beatty. And with the announcement of this year’s awarding ceremony, it’s saddening to note that India’s troubled neighbour has never won a single international prize for literature – let alone the Man Booker.

Perhaps it is a paucity of distinctiveness in the Pakistani voice, or maybe it’s the deficiency of branding that our contiguous counterpart finds in abundance, but Pakistani novelists never seem to strike any chords with the literary intelligentsia. The aforementioned quote is evidently accommodating for this thought; somewhere along the way, our writers lost their sense of individualism. This, coupled with Indian fictionists’ continual plenitude of literary laurels, begs the question: will we ever win an international literary award like the Booker? Read more

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