On the literary outputs of failed states!

Ram Guha in a short note in the Outlook:

Pakistan may or may not be a failed state; but it is unquestionably a society in deep crisis. And like other such, it has produced great literature. The brutalities of Tsarist Russia gave us Tolstoy and Dostoevsky; the corruptions of Latin America gave us Marquez and Paz; the terror of Stalin and Stalinism gave us Kundera, Havel, and Solzhenitsyn. The generals and bigots of Pakistan have already given us Mohsin Hamid and Mohammed Hanif; now we have Daniyal Mueenuddin and Ali Sethi. There will be more to come.

Somehow, the last line sounds very ominous. As much as I appreciate the high quality literary output, I would much rather prefer a people-friendly and humane government in Pakistan!

2 Responses to “On the literary outputs of failed states!”

  1. Jayan Says:

    Guru, He could be right on the assessment. For, only in uncertain times, and under great oppression, did we have the best of the literature. Which could be one reason, that the so called developed countries, do not produce and noteworthy literature, these days. It is the same reason, we see more and more literature coming out of Africa ( not removing the new interest in the academic circle on African Literature).

    However, I am not in agreement with his assessment of the new breed of writers from Pakistan. Mohsin Hamid is mediocre, and some of the news I hear are not very promising about the others as well, despite the popularity of their books.

  2. Guru Says:

    Dear Jayan,

    While I also agree that great oppression can produce great literature, it is not sufficient (and, sometimes, might not even be necessary, if you ask me). I haven’t read any of the authors that he mentions — even though I got intrigued by the comparison of Mueenuddin to R K N.

    Guru

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