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Books and Authors

August 27, 2006


By Natasha Khan

The Pakistan Academy of Letters (PAL) announced the winners of its various literary awards earlier this month among which were several well deserving names. This year’s Kamal-i-Fun Award, a life-time achievement award, has been given to poet Ada Jafri, the first woman recipient of the award.

Meanwhile the Patras Bukhari Award for the best Pakistani English book for 2005 was given to Kamila Shamsie for Broken Verses. The book was recently also translated into German and Italian and was longlisted for 2006 Le Prince Maurice Award for Literary Love Stories.

The Allama Iqbal Award in Urdu went to Zia Jullundhry for his poetry collection Dam-i-Subuh. The Bab-i-Urdu award for the best Urdu prose was shared by Intizar Hussain for Sharzad Ka Naam and Bano Qudsia for Dast Basta. The regional language winners included Ahmad Rahi (Waris Shah award), Dr Fahmida Hussain (Shah Abdul Latif Award), Ayaz Daudzai (Khushhal Khan Khattak Award), Aslam Qureshi (Khwaja Farid Award) and M.S. Azat (Mast Tawakkali award). A new award called the Taj Muhammad Award for Brahvi literature was also announced on the occasion.

Novel about Pakistan auctioned at Oval

The first signed copy of the novel Rodeo Drive to Raja Bazaar by Ayesha Ijaz Khan a young Pakistani author was auctioned at a charity fund-raiser at the Oval on August 15. The event was organised by the Pakistan Human Development Fund in the presence of Pakistan’s national cricket team. Most of the other auctioned items were cricket-related, such as two bats signed by the entire cricket team and three balls signed by two fast bowlers each (which incidentally went variously between £350 and £650 a piece). The book which fetched £500 was one of the non-cricket items. Proceeds from the event will be geared towards helping the Pakistani earthquake victims.

The novel, the author’s first, is a social and political portrait of contemporary Pakistan and its immigrant population in America.

Poet Rahman dies

One of Bangladesh’s most acclaimed poets, Shamsur Rahman (profiled in Books & Author on June 15, 2003), 77, died on August 17 after suffering kidney and liver problems and being in a coma for more than a week. Rahman had 60 poetry books to his name and was known for his campaign for political and social justice, which made him an icon among liberals. Initially a romantic poet who penned his first verses at the age of 18, Rahman began writing on political and social issues after a military coup in Pakistan in 1958. His secular beliefs almost cost him his life in 1999, when he narrowly escaped assassination. He had won many prestigious awards, including Bangladesh’s most prestigious literary award, the Ekushey Padak in 1977.

His body was taken to Shahid Minar (Martyr’s Monument) in Dhaka where it was kept for public viewing for two hours before he was laid to rest beside his mother's grave in Dhaka.

Literary breakthrough

Ahmet Zappa, a Los Angeles native and son of legendary guitarist Frank Zappa, has won a key battle against dyslexia with the publication of his first book, The Monstrous Memoirs of a Mighty McFearless. The publication of the 32-year-old author's initial work is the culmination of years of personal efforts to conquer the affliction, which forced Zappa to drop out of school in grade eight.

Zappa’s school memories consist of embarrassing situations in which he was forced to read aloud from books during class and complete homework he was incapable of understanding. “My brain worked faster than my hands, so I really thought I was communicating what I wanted to put on paper, and it turned out that sentences and words would be missing. It felt like I was being punished and was having to do double the work,” says he. Yet over time, the younger Zappa began reading more and more, until he completed work on McFearless, a fantasy novel which the Post said Disney has already signed for a film adaptation.

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