Sunday December 03, 2023

‘Treasure in the Whispering Pines’ receives positive review

September 17, 2022

Islamabad : The Information Service Academy (ISA) honoured a recently retired colleague, Syed Muhammad Ilyas, by hosting a well-attended function to launch his book, a novella titled ‘Treasure in Whispering Pines’ at the ISA auditorium.

The Federal Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Ms Shahera Shahid, was the chief guest. A large number of Information Service (IS) officers including some retired ones were in attendance.

Interestingly the Novella, ‘Treasure in Whispering Pines’ is a product of ÇOVID-19, said the author and even more so is that the author decided to write in English language, very few such attempts coming to one’s knowledge.

“Immediately after my retirement from service the COVID pandemic struck and I fell a victim. Resultantly I was isolated by the family, confined to my limited space. And at that time I just started writing. And I kept on with it, eventually completing the whole book in less than six months,” said Syed M. Ilyas.

“I decided to write this book in English language as it was in the backdrop of the second World War with main character being a highly decorated British Army officer, who returned home after the war was over and faced multiple social and psychological issues.

Mr. Ilyas said he opted to set the story in the west, to have an international appeal. Doing so got his book, international recognition. He stated that the novella has earned five-star rating on Amazon. He wished the short novel could receive similar response within the country. He expressed his gratitude to the Secretary Information and Broadcasting and DG ISA, Mr Saeed Javed, for facilitating the formal launch of his book.

Ms Shahera Shahid, the Secretary I&B, while speaking on the occasion said the event was organized with a view to highlighting the quality publication, and it was an honour to attend the launch keeping in view the fact that a former senior official of the Ministry of Information had written the short novel.

She said it was heartening to see the book winning acclaim in literary circles abroad. With proper projection, it would also be well received within the country. She said the event was also part of the Ministry as well as ISA’s efforts to revive book reading culture among the youngsters.

Giving his critique on the novella, known poet, writer and intellectual, Naseem e Sahar appreciated the outlook of the book. He also lauded the writer’s command over the language, “specially the frequent use of idiomatic expressions and metaphors is remarkable”.

The depiction of the atmosphere of the time was really nice, and the characters all spoke for themselves. Never at any stage, it felt the story was being related by a non-English speaking individual.

Former Director General, Directorate of Electronic Media and Publication, R A Qayum shared his thoughts quoting specially selected lines from the book. He said the plot of the book was beautifully orchestrated by Ilyas and he built the story effectively on the backdrop of the second world war.

Known columnist and a former senior official of the Ministry of I&B Malik M. Ashraf said, coming from a retired official of the Ministry of I&B, the Novella would serve as a great encouragement for the young officers, and provide them the spirit to read and write, both traits being the pre-requisites to build up careers in the field of media.

The DG ISA, Mr Saeed Javed, in the end said, the academy endeavoured to hold social events, seminars and symposia as part of the training for new entrants to the Information Group. The Book Launch, he said, was an effort to this end.

The short novel has been well received by a wide spectrum of readers in the West, with Amazon awarding it a 5-star rating.

In the start, Trainee officer at the ISA, Ms Tehreem presented a synopsis of the Novella giving a brief account of the whole story and its relevance to contemporary times.