LAHORE: A British novelist visiting Pakistan for the third time sees a considerable increase both in security and militarisation in the country and terms it depressing. However, she says, something good about the country is that it has not succumbed to the external forces and it has not got westernized.
Rosie Dastgir gave these remarks while talking to Dawn on the launch of her debut novel ‘A Small Fortune’ at Avari Hotel on Monday.
She said her novel was the outcome of an unfinished project. After doing her master’s in film and TV from New York, she met Indian director Udayan Parsad who offered her a film project which could not materialize, she said, adding that later, she decided to write a novel on the plot she had in mind for the film. She wrote the over 300 pages novel in some four years time.
When asked what the novel was all about, Ms Dastgir summed it up by saying, “It’s about the ties that bind and divide families.”
The novelist first came to Pakistan some 20 years ago and the current one was the third trip to the country her father belonged to. Rosie Dastgir was born in England to a Pakistani, Ghulam Dastgir, and English mother.
She told this scribe that whenever she visits Pakistan she particularly sees the Badshahi Mosque and generally the old architecture of Lahore in the Walled City.
It was a soft book launch on Monday; the book would be introduced at the Lahore Literary Festival too.
Journalist Raza Rumi moderated the evening in a very subtle manner. Mustansar Hussain Tarar, Amjad Islam Amjad, Mazharul Islam and Saeed Jaffar took part in the conversation. It led to answers to many questions like Ms Dastgir’s favourites among Pakistani writers were Mohammed Hanif, Daniyal Mueenuddin and Kamila Shamsi.
To Dastgir, literature played a very positive role in the society and people had an easy access to literature from every country due to globalisation.
Mazharul Islam, former head of the National Book Foundation and a short story writer, lauded Rosie Dastgir as a novelist, saying that during his recent visits to Rome, Barcelona, London and Toronto, he realised that ‘A Small Fortune’ had established her among the first rank writers.
He said the novel was first introduced to him in July 2013 in Rome at the launch ceremony of his collection of short stories translated into Italian by Dr Sabrina.
He said a professor of anthropology had referred to ‘A Small Fortune’ while posing a question about Pakistani immigrants in Italy, England and Canada and about their ruined dreams and harboured hopes.
“It was a matter of great concern that such a splendid novel related to Pakistan was being introduced to me by an Italian,” he said, adding that ‘A Small Fortune’ represented the qualities of a splendid prose which could be visualised as an elegantly woven Pakistani textile stitched with the Western lace.