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LAHORE: Punjabi novel Madhu Lal Husain (Lahore Di Wail)written by Nain Sukh was launched at the Punjab Institute of Language, Art and Culture (Pilac) on Saturday.

The launch was presided over by Punjabi Adabi Board President Mushtaq Soofi.

Speaking on the occasion, Soofi said if one went by the format of novel writing, one would ask whether this one by Nain Sukh fell in the category of a novel or not. He said the point was not whether it was a novel or not, what mattered was it had generated dialogue. The novel was being discussed in literary circles and not being ignored like others that were written and forgotten.

He said the novelist had experimented in his work while amalgamating old and new times. Usually readers were habitual of a novel that went straight from the beginning to the end, but in this case the writer had broken away from the set traditions of novel writing. History had been fictionalised in this novel, a new way of creating fiction, he added.

Professor Zubair Ahmed said the 464-page novel was more about Lahore and less about Sufi saint Madhu Lal Husain in contrast to its title. He also said the novel encompassed some thousand-year history of Lahore that surely could not be found in historical chronologies on the city written by Syed Muhammad Latif and Kanhaiya Lal.

Novelist Zahid Hasan said Lahore’s cultural and historical aspects had been well highlighted in the novel that also had a great deal of symbolism and could well be used as a reference book. The novel was an effort to break away from the set format of novel writing, he added.

Qazi Javed said very few books had been written on Lahore’s history and one did not find books on cultural and economical history of Lahore.

Aamir Riaz, publisher of the book, said history and literature had been gathered in this novel that unveiled the faces that occupied properties of Sikhs and Hindus in Lahore after 1947. There were characters in the novel that were symbolic of different times Lahore had gone through.

Writer Nain Sukh, whose real name is Khalid Mehmood and by profession is a lawyer, while speaking on the occasion said the debate whether it was a novel or not died with the fact that anybody could accept it as a novel or not. Citing examples, he said Tolstoy’s War and Peacewas also not recognised as a novel in the beginning, neither was D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover,but later all such writings were accepted.

He also read excerpts from his novel. Singer Rehana Akhtar recited verses of Shah Husain on the occasion.

Published in Dawn, April 26th, 2015

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