KARACHI: At the book launch of Jadeed Japani Afsanaay, an anthology of contemporary Japanese short stories, held at the Japanese Consulate on Monday, the power of the written word and how it can connect different worlds was stressed upon.

Translated by Shahid Hameed, the anthology includes the translated works of Nobel laureates Kawabata Yasunair and Oe Kinzaburo, and other prominent Japanese writers.

The consul general of Japan in Karachi, Toshikazu Isomura, expressed his desire to connect the world of Japanese literature to Pakistani audiences and allow a healthy and free exchange of ideas through the written word.

“We wish to offer a platform to all those individuals working on related projects to come together,” he said.

Speaking about the translated work, Mr Isomura said: “The translated work gives a bird’s eye view of the Japanese culture and lifestyle to the Pakistani reader in Urdu language. I personally believe that it would enhance mutual ties between the two countries namely Japan and Pakistan on solid grounds, with better understanding, and pave the way ahead for cultural know-how.”

Moderator of the book launch, Khurram Sohail, shared how this dearth was mostly within Pakistan while in Japan, the translated works of Mirza Ghalib, Allama Iqbal, Manto and even those of Intizar Husain were available. Therefore to address this, more Japanese literary works would be translated in the near future.

One such translation is of The Tale of Genji which is considered to be the world’s first novel, which was written by Murasaki Shikibu in Heian Japan in the early years of the 11th century.

Prof Rais Ahmed spoke about the commonalities between Pakistani and Japanese literature. He was of the opinion that the cultural spirit of Pakistan was closer to Japan than any other culture around the world. “It is like two rooms of the same house,” he explained.

Other speakers at the book launch were M. Ilyas, who has been teaching Japanese language in Karachi, and Unus Hasany, an Urdu language teacher.

Published in Dawn, September 26th, 2017

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