Acclaimed writer and academic Asif Farrukhi passes away at 60

Updated Jun 02 2020

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Known for his short stories and essays, Dr Asif Farrukhi was a founder member of the Karachi Literature Festival and a professor of literature. — Photo by Hamza Cheema/Dawn.com
Known for his short stories and essays, Dr Asif Farrukhi was a founder member of the Karachi Literature Festival and a professor of literature. — Photo by Hamza Cheema/Dawn.com

Renowned fiction writer, literary critic and academic, Dr Asif Farrukhi, passed away at the age of 60 in Karachi on Monday.

Farrukhi, a diabetic patient, had been unwell for the past few days, people close to him said. The details of his funeral and burial were not immediately available.

A public health physician by training, Farrukhi was the professor of practice, Arzu Programme for Languages and Literature, and the director of the Arzu Centre for Regional Languages and Humanities at Habib University.

"Habib University today has lost a key founding faculty member of its community, Dr Asif Aslam Farrukhi," the varsity said on Twitter.

Recently, he did a video-blog series on reading and writing in the days of the pandemic. Farrukhi was also a founder member of the Karachi Literature Festival and contributed regularly to English-language press.

Read: Asif Farrukhi's columns for Dawn

After completing his MBBS at the Dow Medical College, Karachi in 1984, Farrukhi obtained a Masters in Public Health with a concentration in International Health from Harvard University in 1988, according to his profile provided by Habib University.

He also attended a short course on Health Economics and Financing from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in 2012 and served as an instructor in Community Health Sciences at the Aga Khan University, Karachi.

Between 1994 and 2014, he served as the health and nutrition programme officer at Unicef Karachi.

Known for his short stories and essays, Dr Farrukhi’s academic and research interests were in literature and language. Seven collections of his short fiction stories and two of critical essays were published.

He also published translations of prose and poetry from modern and classical writers. His recent publications included a collection of new critical essays on Manto and Look At The City From Here — an anthology of writings about Karachi, according to his HU profile. Two of his adaptations have been staged in Karachi.

Farrukhi, a son of distinguished Urdu scholar and writer Dr Aslam Farrukhi, was also a columnist and contributed regularly to Dawn's Books and Authors and Eos magazines.

He was the editor of Duniyazad, a literary journal of new writing and contemporary issues in Urdu.

For his distinguished work, he was awarded the Prime Minister’s Literary Award by the Pakistan Academy of Letters in 1997 and the Tamgha-i-Imtiaz by the Pakistani government.

Condolences pour in

Friends and colleagues expressed shock and grief at Farrukhi's death.

Hasan Zaidi, editor magazines Dawn, termed the writer's death a "massive loss for Pakistan’s literary landscape".

Former managing director at Oxford University Press Pakistan and co-founder of the KLF Ameena Saiyid while talking to Geo News said Farrukhi was a "literary giant" and his death is a major loss for the country.

She said reading and writing was his passion and he devoted his life to promoting literature in Pakistan.

Sociologist and academic Nida Kirmani recalled Farrukhi as "a cultural and intellectual beacon" for Karachi.