Masood Ashar is a renowned Urdu short story writer. He has published four collections of short stories, including the widely read Saare Afsane and Apna Ghar. He is also one of the country’s leading Urdu columnists.   What book are you reading these days?
The Nothing by Hanif Kureishi.   What is the one book that you’ve been wanting to read for a long time, but haven’t yet got your hands on it? Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne. It is an 18th century novel, the forerunner of many narrative devices and styles used by modern and post-modern writers.

What is the one famous/celebrated book that you haven’t read?
Finnegans Wake by James Joyce. The different interpretations that critics have written of the novel are also hard to understand.   What is the most overrated book?
Raja Gidh by Bano Qudsia. It’s so popular that a number of its editions have been published, but it has nothing [substantial] in it.   What is the most underrated book?
Nae Chiragh-i-Nae Gule by Nisar Aziz Butt. It is a great novel in which the author touches upon Pakistan-India relations. Sadly, the novel has been ignored or hasn’t had the kind of reception that it deserves. 

Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib or Mir Taqi Mir? 
Mir. 

Karachi Literature Festival or Lahore Literature Festival?
Karachi Literature Festival. To be honest, there is no comparison, but KLF is more ‘international’ in scope.   Ghazal or nazm?
Nazm. The kind of nazm that’s being written these days is more relevant to our times. I feel with ghazal the problem is that poets seem to be following a single pattern.

James Joyce’s Ulysses or D.H. Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers?
Sons and Lovers. Though Joyce is a great storyteller, Lawrence has a larger canvas.  

The one dead writer who deserved the Nobel Prize for literature, but didn’t get it?
D. H. Lawrence, for reasons given above.   The one living writer who deserves the Nobel Prize for literature?
Haruki Murakami. He’s written a lot and his books such as Norwegian Wood and 1Q84 are pretty special.

Published in Dawn, Books & Authors, June 10th, 2018

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