The writing standard

Of our local writers and Mir Khalid''s views about them

Imtiyaz Assad
Srinagar, Publish Date: Dec 14 2017 10:43PM | Updated Date: Dec 14 2017 10:43PM
The writing standardFile Photo

Close on the heels of an interview by Gowher Geelani with Mir Khalid, the author of Jaffna Street, published in Kashmir Ink Magazine, some guys rolled up their sleeves, pulled up their socks and started hauling Mir Khalid over the coals for calling "native writers" as "Wannabes" and many other things which they took umbrage at, as if the author had committed a sheer profanity by simply calling a spade a spade.

I wonder, why a massive tide of anger overtakes us when someone speaks an unsavoury truth that we find hard to swallow? Mir Khalid is right in his conclusions. What great corpus of literature have we produced that we can brag about? Can any of the works churned out by our lionised authors and that of Camus, Kafka or for that matter Dostoevsky - be put in the same league? I don't deny the fact that in a conflict-torn state, if someone raises a voice of protest by writing a book, he ought to greeted with plaudits, but glorifying the half-baked stuff is asinine at best and unpalatable at worst.

Well, I happened to see a particular self-styled Gabriel Garcia Marquez on social media - fulminating against the stylistic facet of Khalid's writing. This is a classical example of: Grapes are sour. He does not know that to acquire writing skills and literary flair of Khalid, it will take him decades together and yet he will be still languishing at the margins - cursing his fate. Another pseudo intellectual has - out of sheer frustration -  tried to pour ridicule upon Gowher Geelani despite the fact the latter is just an interviewer and plainly states what interviewee puts across; so what is the point of aiming your impotent weapons at him?

Well, coming back to my point. Sympathy with our local writers is good, but it must not make us blithely brush aside the enormous fund of literature French, Russian or British or American writers have produced. Khalid is right when he says had "brilliant tour de force works" been written, our aspiring young writers could have drawn inspiration from them. Why should it get on our nerves when it is purely in our better interest and likely to act an impetus to the active breed of writers to give birth to something great and set a glorious example? We celebrate mediocrity, and make holy cows of our local authors who are yet to step out of their narrow orbits and shed their goddamn hubris.

However I do disagree with Mir Khalid when he accuses our "poetry dabblers" and prose "afficiandos" of not having ever heard of Emily Dickinson, David Remnick and Kazuo Ishiguro. This is nothing short of scoffing at the literary tastes of our young poets and prose writers and should not have come from writer of Khalid's stature. I know a huge number of local poets and prose writers who have read a plenty of serious stuff - more profound and sublime than David Remnick and Kazuo Ishiguro, so this impression by Mir Khalid carries no substance.

To end with, I must say, we have a young lot of writers who are endowed with massive potential and are capable of writing good stuff.They need to set sights high and aim higher, as suggested by Mir Khalid. So long as we are unable to produce Dostoevsky and his ilk, Khalid's seemingly blunt and bitter remarks will continue to rankle our nerves.


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