The quiet Pakistani
Long before Mohsin Hamid startled us with The Reluctant Fundamentalist (how many of you have read his debut, Moth Smoke ? You should, though; it’s very fine), Kamila Shamsie acquired a following in India, and HM Naqvi made a flamboyant, unbuttoned debut, Aamer Hussein began to build a body of eloquent, understated, beautiful work.
We talk a lot about contemporary Pakistani writers these days. Have you read Hussein?
Hussein, was born in Karachi in 1955, and moved to London in 1970. Starting with Mirror to the Sun in 1993, he has been publishing for 17 years. Apart from his most recent work – the excellent novella, Another Gulmohar Tree (2009) – he has written only stories, and has published five collections of them.
Spare, chiselled gems these stories are, taut yet evocative, suffused with emotion that never degenerates into schmaltz.
He is that odd thing, a writer’s writer, a phrase by which we mean, I suppose, that although several writers admire his stuff, he hasn’t had the popular following he so richly deserves.
Weaving folk tales with a portrait of a long and complicated marriage that manages, despite all odds, to not only survive, but thrive, Another Gulmohar Tree is a brilliant achievement, redolent with the small but radiant joys of living and loving. Here is a review from the Independent.
Penguin India has just published it over here. It has also brought out Hussein’s Insomnia and other Stories, which was first published in the UK in
“Quiet voices sometimes find it difficult to be heard,” the Daily Telegraph said while writing about Hussein. “Hussein gives great pleasure to those who listen carefully.”
Nothing could be truer.