Archive for August, 2010

Uzma Aslam Khan & Granta 112: New writing from Pakistan

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

g112-cover-1Granta‘s fall 2010 issue  features writing from Pakistan, including a new story, “Ice, Mating,” by Uzma Aslam Khan. It looks like a fantastic issue, can’t wait to see it!  And Uzma will be at San Francisco’s Litquake festival in October, for those of you in the Bay Area; we’ll link to the schedule once it’s up.

Blue Has No South in the Near East Quarterly

Friday, August 27th, 2010

This week brings a remarkably in-depth feature on Blue Has No South by Joseph Burke in the debut issue of the Near East Quarterly:

Acclaimed historian Tony Judt once wrote: “I was raised on words. They tumbled off the kitchen table onto the floor where I sat: grandfather, uncles, and refugees flung Russian, Polish, Yiddish, French, and what passed for English at one another in a competitive cascade of assertion and interrogation.” Judt, writing with the degenerative disease that led to his death on August 6, continued: “Talking, it seemed to me, was the point of adult existence. I have never lost that sense.” What is it about words that they can move us? Not just move us emotionally; as when they move us to tears, to anger and so forth. What is it that they can move us across lands and oceans, move us to pack up a suitcase and buy a train ticket?

Alex Epstein’s concise, intriguing book, richly entitled Blue Has No South consists of a group of one hundred and fourteen stories over no more than one hundred and thirty pages. This book may, in fact, be more suitably described as a collection of cleaved reflections. Few of the stories reach out over a page; indeed most sit comfortably in the top half of each leaf. However, the white space is never excessive as the reader’s thoughts inevitably seep down from the subtle but engaging, often humorous, texts. Indeed, it is a testament to the book’s translator, Becka Mara McKay, that brevity, depth and wit are all retained.

[Read more here—]

Uzma Aslam Khan on the Pakistan floods

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

The death toll has officially crossed 1,600. The unofficial number is 3,000. Over 12 million people’s lives have been affected. Around 80% of the country’s food reserves are gone. The scale of this calamity is mind-boggling; the UN is predicting that the aftermath will be even worse than the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean, 2005 earthquake in northern Pakistan, and 2010 earthquake in Haiti combined.

What has hit Pakistan in this millennium? Or even in just this year alone? From the attacks on Ahmadis in Lahore to the plane crash in Islamabad to the floods in the north, to the riots in Karachi, the last three, in the space of just a few days last week? From the Taliban to the US drones. And now the floods are moving south, into Sindh. Terrifyingly, meteorologists are predicting that the rains will continue in the next 24-36 hours. So many crops have already been destroyed the price of tomatoes alone has tripled in two days. Are we looking at a nation-wide famine? In the past, Pakistanis could at least be proud of not needing food aid. Is even that dignity soon to be lost?

The particular case of Swat Valley is heartbreaking. Sawatis had to suffer the Taliban and then the Pakistan Army, and now most of the valley is completely cut off, so relief efforts are at a near standstill. Here’s a painful YouTube video on Mangora, Swat Valley.

And I just came across some more devastating photos.

What to do? If you are in a position to help, please donate to one of several relief agencies that are dependable and doing their best to access areas that the government alone does not seem able to help. (Don’t get me started on President Zardari’s grotesque visit to Europe this week, while his countrymen and countrywomen drown.)

Here are some suggestions for how to donate.

This link has a video and a way to donate through the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC).

Another excellent way is through the Edhi Foundation, which has centers in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, Japan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

If you would rather go through other agencies (Red Cross, Oxfam, UNICEF etc.), here’s a complete list.

—Uzma Aslam Khan, in a re-post from her blog.