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2017 witnesses significant rise in Pashto prose books

December 27, 2017

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A bookstore in Qissakhwani Bazaar, Peshawar. — Dawn
A bookstore in Qissakhwani Bazaar, Peshawar. — Dawn

PESHAWAR: According to print market experts, the year 2017 witnessed a significant rise in the publication of Pashto prose books as among 3, 500 new Pashto titles on variety of topics about 2,500 books were published in prose.

Experts have termed it a significant change in the history of Pashto literature. Around 2,500 books had been published in the 2016 with 70 per cent Pashto poetry books. Pakhtun woman writers also brought out their poetry collections and research titles, some on women issues.

The Khwendo Lakhkar (Khal), a literary organisation comprising Pakhtun women writers, conducted several seminars and poetry sessions and their number from a few in the beginning rose up to 50 in the year 2017.

Kulsoomzeb, chief of Khal, said that Pakhtun women writers, despite limited space in social participation, were making progress at least on the literary scene in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as more young girls joined her organisation and also took active part in literary functions in Peshawar.

She said that earlier Pakhtun women writers were shying away to bring out their poetry volumes and fiction books.

Despite slump in market, book lovers turn up to buy written words

“Now they not only participate in the literary events but also their families encourage them to publish their creative and research works,” she said, adding that the trend would help them to highlight their issues in the best possible manner.

Aamir Khan Yad, a Pashto poet who runs his own printing house in Qissakhawani Bazaar, told this scribe that compared to the last several decades, 2017 witnessed a huge hike in the publication of Pashto prose titles as readers had shown great interest in prose books.

He said that despite slump Pashto books market, book lovers turned up to buy written words.

He said that Pashto literati would always feel a dearth of prose books in Pashto literature but 2017 brought a hope of ray for Pashto book lovers. Large number of literary events, book fairs and award ceremonies encouraged budding Pashto poets and writers across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata.

Citing reasons behind an encouraging upward trend in Pashto book publication, Mr Yad said that launching of Pashto literature as subject at about five public sector universities in the province, literary activities by hundreds of organisations and active social media were its main reasons.

He said that Pashto books published in KP, Quetta and Karachi focused on various aspects of Pakhtun culture, revival of peace, history, folklore, politics and social issues. He said that rise in publication of |Pashto prose and fiction books was a positive change and could be termed as a historic moment.

Amjad Ali Khadim, a Pashto poet, said that rise in prose books showed a collective wisdom and a social awareness among people, especially young Pakhtuns.

He said that writing a prose book was not everybody’s cup of tea. He said that similarly reading a prose title needed a high degree of understanding and patience.

Mr Khadim claimed that Mumtaz Orakzai’s Pashto poetry volume titled ‘Zakhmak’ was published for the third time which was a record in the same year.

He said that Pashto fiction book of Dr Hamdard Yousafzai ‘Cheendru’ garnered an overwhelming response from literary circles.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa culture directorate, Pashto Academy, University of Peshawar and several literary organisations also brought Pashto books while poets and writers were honoured by Abasin Arts Council and literary associations in Swat, Malakand, Dir, Buner, Madran, Nowshera, Bannu and Fata.

Prof Zubair Hasrat, senior research scholar, said that Pashto books market would further improve if provincial education department implemented teaching of mother tongues as a compulsory subject in educational institutions.

He said that the credit went to poets and writers, who had kept Pashto alive despite financial constraints and lack of official patronage.

He said that Pashto prose and fiction books found a better expression that’s why Pakhtun readers for the first time enjoyed reading them.

Afsar Afghan, a young writer, said that Pashto poets shared their poetic pieces on social media but prose writers preferred publication as deep ideas couldn’t be posted for hectic reading sessions. He said that Pashto language teachers should encourage students to write prose pieces as it would enhance their interest in written word.

“It doesn’t mean that readers have left appreciating poetry but it is a fact that modern Pakhtuns have found a new area of interest in reading prose and fiction because poets and writers have aroused their interesting in issues, which greatly appeal to their taste and needs,” said Mr Afghan.

He added that most Pashto writers became eager to bring out their research works to meet the market demands.

Published in Dawn, December 27th, 2017