KARACHI: The world of English literature in general and South Asian literature in particular lost a sonorous poetic voice, a skilful essayist and a distinguished novelist, Zulfikar Ghose, who passed away in Austin, Texas, at the age of 87.
Ghose was born on March 13, 1935 in Sialkot, which was then part of British India. After spending 10 years in Bombay (now Mumbai) his family shifted to London in 1952 where the young Zulfi (as he was fondly known to friends and admirers) attended Sloane School, Chelsea.
Three years later, in 1955, he went to Keele University where he studied English and Philosophy, and it’s there that his creative talents came to the fore. He became editor of the university’s literary magazine and the national anthology, University’s Poetry. It didn’t take him long to join the Dulwich Group, giving poetry readings on the BBC.
In 1963, he received a special award for poetry from the E.C. Gregory Trust and started teaching English at Ealing Mead School. In 1964, he tied the nuptial knot with the Brazilian artist, Helena de la Fontaine.
Ghose published his first collection of poems, The Loss of India in 1964 followed by Jets from Orange in 1967. Both were critically acclaimed. His autobiography Confessions of a Native Alien came out in 1965 and his first novel The Contradictions was published in 1966. But it was The Incredible Brazilian that hit the newsstands in 1970 which earned him a formidable reputation, garnering praise from literary giants such as Paul Theroux.
It is said when he was in the UK as a young artist he also met the power couple of poetry, Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath. In 1969, Ghose and his wife moved to the US where he stayed for the rest of his life. He also wrote a widely read column for Dawn.
Published in Dawn, July 7th, 2022