The Daily Star has a great write-up of a new generation of Bangladeshi writers working in English. It’s interesting to me, at any rate, how the debate about the character of BWE is the same debate about IWE a few decades ago:
Although Bangladeshi writing in English has a long way to go, it has a bright future too. We may be able to play at least a role similar to that of India. But how? The ongoing mode of BWE has to be liberated from the literary coterie, i.e., the small circle of writers, publishers, and their admirers. It has to be rescued from the narrow confines of academia and the English medium schools. English language newspapers and magazines should allow enough room for literary expression and fresh writings should be picked solely on merit. The King’s/Queen’s English can better be exploited by the conscious ‘Calibans’ of our country.
India is pressing the UN to make Hindi an official language, but it’s coming up against the financial strains that this would put the UN under.
Shahid Malik was in India campaigning for Urdu literature; he argued that Urdu literature could help ease India-Pakistan tensions: “We can remove animosity through literary and creative writings. Mindset can be changed (through literature)… battlefields can be transformed into oasis of peace… Urdu literature can be helpful in (improving) relations.” Even though I am a huge fan of using Urdu literature for expressly this purpose, perhaps Shahid Malik should worry about the race relations in his own backyard first: how about standing up for the rights of Muslim women, High Commissioner, and not blaming the victim.
The Express Tribune has an interesting write-up of a new literary prize, the “Life’s Too Short Short Story Prize”:
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.