Celebrating Abdullah Hussein: Revisiting ‘The Weary Generations’

Tuesday, 21st February 2017 | 6:00PM – 7:30PM

‘Those, however, were the marginally happier days…’

It is rare for a translated work to survive the legacy and celebration of the original work. Yet in the case of the twentieth century Indian subcontinent, such is the case with a celebrated novel, namely Abdullah Hussein’s Udas Naslein, published in 1963. The novel, perhaps for reasons of enhancing the international reputation of the author, was self-translated into English, in 1999. This English version, translated by the writer himself, thirty-three years later can and should be treated as an independent work of fiction in English; and if indeed this treatment is successful then The Weary Generations arguably becomes the most significant Pakistani work in English in the immediate post-partition period since the publication of Zulfikar Ghose’s The Murder of Aziz Khan in 1967. The novel maybe read on three levels: as an account of events revolving around the partition of India in 1947; as a description of the politics and sociology of undivided Punjab, with its attendant system of feudalism and patriarchy; and a love story which begins, thrives and eventually falls with the fate of British colonialism in India itself.

The talk will not only revisit Hussein’s iconic translation, which has unjustifiably received far less critical attention than its Urdu variant, but throw light on the backstory that went into its writing, as well as the poetics and politics of Subcontinental history, the Punjabi milieu and the plight of the women protagonists rampant throughout the The Weary Generations. The talk will also be interspersed with readings from the work itself.

About the Speaker:
Raza Naeem is a social scientist, book critic, and an award-winning translator and dramatic reader currently engaged as Instructor in History at the Senior School in the Beaconhouse School Systems in Lahore. He has been trained in Political Economy from the University of Leeds in UK, and in Middle Eastern History and Anthropology from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, US. He is presently working on translations of the selected work of Sibte Hasan, Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi and Abdullah Hussein and contributes regularly to Newsline, The News on Sunday and The Friday Times. He has curated and moderated a first-ever edition of Banned Books Week in Pakistan in Lahore in September 2014, a second edition in September last year (2015) and a third edition in 2016 in collaboration with Olomopolo. He is the recipient of a prestigious 2013-2014 Charles Wallace Trust Fellowship in the UK for his translation and interpretive work on Saadat Hasan Manto’s essays. He is currently the President of the Progressive Writers Association in Lahore. His most recent work is an introduction to the reissued edition (HarperCollins India, 2016) of Abdullah Hussein’s classic novel The Weary Generations.


When: Tuesday, 21st February 2017
Where: The Second Floor (T2F)
Time: 6:00PM – 7:30PM
Entry: Rs. 150 (All proceeds from the event will be used to fund T2F’s literary projects)

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