Book launch: Writers call for more funds for literary activities

Published: June 5, 2012

Events to make books more easily available to readers also on the cards. PHOTOS: CREATIVE COMMONS

ISLAMABAD: In the wake of the 2012-13 budget, literary figures on Monday, regretted the meagre allocation earmarked for Urdu literature and linguistics publications.

In an attempt to nurture the Urdu language and its literary contributions, the National Language Authority (NLA) is holding a series of multiple book launches, in spite of various constraints. Other events to make publishing accessible to authors and books more easily available to readers are also on the cards.

Four Urdu books were launched as part of the series. Last week a similar event took place where five literary books were launched. “We hope to launch a number of books every week if funds permit,” said NLA chairman Anwar Ahmed.

Unfortunately, without the government pumping funds into institutions such as the Pakistan Academy of Letters, National Language Authority and National Book Foundation, such activities cannot become a regular feature of the Urdu literary world in Islamabad, he said.

Moreover, prominent literary figure Iftikhar Arif said the money allocated for literary endeavours in Pakistan is even less than fuel expenditure of some ministries. “The government and the people need to understand the importance of literature and the mother tongue. In tough times, survival is of penultimate importance but literature can become both an outlet and escape for frustrated citizens,” he added.

Arif commended NLA’s efforts for reviving the book-reading culture in the country and said the fact they published 18 Urdu books in four months showed that it was possible to make a difference despite financial hurdles.

All of the four books launched in the ceremony, were appreciated by critics. Referring to Muhammad Asif’s book that chronicles and analyses poet Hazeen Siddiqi’s literary contributions, “Hazeen Siddiqi Shakhsiyat aur shairi”, Najeeb Jamal from the International Islamic University’s Urdu department commended the author for sketching Siddiqi’s poetic style and persona both sensitively and accurately. “Siddiqi is one of the most prominent Urdu poets of this generation,” said Jamal.

Abdul Aziz Sahir, who reviewed Ghazi Ilam Deen’s book, “Lisani Mutalay” (Linguistic Studies) and noted that writing about Urdu linguistics is especially challenging as Urdu has a rich, complicated and eclectic background.

“The author has fulfilled this challenge with poise and has expressed himself with simplicity, making the book more accessible and understandable to the public,” he added.

Meanwhile, Mubina Tallat talked about the book ‘Kulyat-e-Arsh Siddique’ (Collections of Arsh Siddique) compiled by the Muhammad Hanif, while Arshad Khanum discussed ‘Nisaai Shaoor ki Tareekh: Urdu afsana aur aurat’ (History of gender consciousness: Women in Urdu literature) written by Asmat Jameel.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 5th, 2012.

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