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April 29, 2019

I’ll be the last one to make rules for writing: Arundhati Roy


April 29, 2019

Islamabad : Writing is the most appropriate way to express trauma and complications, and I will be the last person to make rules for writing in terms of impression and style, said Arundhati Roy, acclaimed Indian author and activist, during a talk on her novel 'The Ministry of Utmost Happiness' here at the International Islamic University.

The talk was held over Skype in a conference on 'Getting our bearings right: literature, society and prosperity' organised by the English department of the university in collaboration with varsity’s constituent unit Iqbal Institute for research and dialogue (IRD).

“I have always quarrelled with this word “activist”. I think it’s a very new word and I don’t know when it was born, but it was recently. I don’t want to have a second profession added to writing,” the writer said.

To a question about the place and city in the novel, she said it’s a book that doesn’t pretend to universalise anything or conceptualise anything.

"It’s a book of great detail about a place. On a question about her fiction and non-fiction works. I don’t actually see my fiction and nonfiction as extensions of each other," she said.

The conference was attended by as many as 25 national and international speakers other than Roy including Dr. Asif Farrukhi, Dr. Shahid Siddique and many others.

The speakers called for a devising a comprehensive policy on adoption of the national language and recommended for establishing translation centres at varsities.

Famous writer, critic and Dean of Arts and Humanities at University of Karachi, Dr. Asif Farrukhi in his keynote address stressed to bring regional and Urdu language literature into English, while sharing his views on a case study of reading contemporary Urdu literature from Pakistan based on Asad Muhammad Kha’n’s work, A new harvest of anger.

He said historic themes, social and class conflicts, as well as contradictions, emerge from contemporary Urdu poetry and fiction, often not available in the current syllabi and lead to limited understanding of Pakistani society.

Dr. Shahid Siddiqui, an educationist, and dean of the Social Sciences, NUML at Islamabad, delivered a keynote address on “language, life chances, and the Matthew effect”. He discussed the gloomy picture of mishandling and inappropriate policies towards the adoption of the national language. He maintained that literature is a political tool and it is not confined to enjoyment only.

He said language and literature were the best tools to utilize for construction of society and it also determines to break or make the stereotypes.

Dr. Tahir Khailiy, Vice President Academics at IIUI vowed that conferences of such importance will be part of the activity calendar to determine the role of literature in the prosperity and reconstruction of society.

He also hailed the efforts of the department and IRD for managing to bring the best speakers and experts to discuss the theme of the conference.

Dr. Ayaz Afsar, Dean of Faculty of Social Sciences said that one of the purposes of the conference is to encourage debate, interaction, and networking among the national and international experts and students.

“I would like to propose that the goal of the English departments should be reclaiming the primacy of asceticism in literary criticism,” he added.

The event was also addressed by Dr. Husn ul Amin, Executive Director, IRD who apprised about the role of IRD in society building.

The Arundhati talk, the rest of the sessions and discussions were mediated by Dr. Muhammad Sheeraz Dasti, the conference secretary who, earlier, also gave the audience details of sessions. The conference witnessed around 100 papers relevant to the theme of the conference.

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