KARACHI, May 20: Having lost the popularity it once enjoyed, the culture associated with Kushti (wrestling) is revived in Musharraf Ali Farooqi’s latest novel, Between Clay and Dust, launched in the city on Sunday evening.
The event featured an interactive session with the author and reading of excerpts from the book by Urdu poet Afzal Ahmed Syed and classical dancer Sheema Kirmani.
Between Clay and Dust focuses on the lives of two characters central to the Subcontinent: a celebrated Pahalwan, who has dedicated his life to his profession with an almost sacred zeal, and a courtesan famed for her beauty and skills in the forms of art.
The book follows the characters as their lives become intertwined amidst a backdrop of the Partition and the resulting socio-political change. “I don’t think this story is of Pakistan or India. It is about a common cultural experience that we share,” said the author.
In response to a question as to what was the essence of the book, the author responded that it began with an attempt to communicate “a man’s ignorance of the world around him. He becomes cloaked in his own world in a very selfish manner. He wants everything but doesn’t want to give anything back.”
Ms Kirmani then read out passages from a chapter titled, Ustad Ramzi, whereas Mr Syed treated the audience with an Urdu translation of a chapter, Gohar Jan, in the novel.
At the end of reading of the translated passage, however, Ms Kirmani insisted on reading a section from Gohar Jan as she was of the opinion that the feelings of the protagonist were communicated better in English.
Between Clay and Dust was first published in India. Describing the experience of working in India, Mr Farooqi said: “The publishing industry is well established in India. A lot of Pakistanis are looking towards India to launch their books and artwork. There is a sense of stability there, while there is no proper culture of publishing in Pakistan though it will change in due time as competition increases.” His previous books include The Story of a Widow and books for children such as The Amazing Moustaches of Moochanddar the Iron Man, The Cobbler’s Holiday and Why Ants Don’t Wear Shoes.
He has also translated Urdu classics such as Hoshruba, The Adventures of Amir Hamza, and Rococo and Other Worlds — a selection of Urdu poet, Afzal Ahmed Syed’s poetry.
The author is currently working on two books and one of them is set to be released soon.