Afkar-e-Taza ThinkFest opens at Alhamra: 'Difficult to be in Pakistan and not be angry'.

LAHORE -- Novelist Mohsin Hamid at the opening of the Afkar-e-Taza ThinkFest discussed the language question in Pakistan, truth in the contemporary world, his novels and writing style in a session, called 'Challenging Truth', at Alhamra on Saturday. He was in conversation with Dr Waseem Anwar of Kinnaird College.

When asked about his book of essays, Discontent and Other Civilisations, Hamid said it was an outcome of discontent and the things that annoyed a person and took one back to structures that one belonged to - a particular group of people whether Punjabi, Muslims, Pakistani or certain political parties.

About the question of language and writing in English, he said he chose the language because he was more fluent in English than Urdu.

'For many people, language is something that occurs from the journey of life, and in my case, although Urdu was my first language I forgot it and English became my second language and I did not have a first language. I re-learnt Urdu and it became my third language. I don't have a first language because my mother tongue was forgotten. If I tend to write a book in Urdu, it would be horrific. For me, it's not that I prefer to write in English, it's just that the instrument (language) that I learnt to play much better with happened to be English.'

Hamid said in Pakistani universities, many young people were reading in English or learning to read in English. 'There is an English language tradition that exists in Pakistan, which is not external. It's partly because young people realise that English is the language of power. I never had this feeling that English was not a Pakistani language. It's also a mistake to think that English comes to Pakistan from outside. We do have a degree of ownership over this language.'

On challenging truth, he said when a country or society talked about 'truth' and insisted on it, one had no option but to challenge that 'truth'. 'Truth is something that needs to be contested, and in Pakistan also we have to do that,' he added.

When asked about his relationship with his characters, the author said, 'When I am writing a character -- man, woman, young or old -...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT