LAHORE: Zarrar Said, the author of latest international fictional thrill ‘Pureland’ and a master story–teller, emphasises that freedom of expression and speech are fundamental human rights and must be protected. No one can be hated because of his or her religion, sect and race, he viewed.
He expressed these views while talking to The News in an exclusive talk during the Lahore Literary Festival (LLF) at Alhamra Arts Council here on Sunday.
Zarrar Said, a Pakistani national, living in the USA, revealed that when he went abroad for study, he got familiar with the story of Dr Abdul Salam, who has great influence on the world, but unfortunately, he was not given deserving respect and worth in Pakistan. “By writing this novel I tried to tell the young generation to recognise their hero and his services. Such incident should not happen with another Abdul Salam, and that’s what I have conveyed through this book titled “Pureland”, he said.
History is witness to this hard fact that nations and countries progressed because of science. And, Salam was a world recognised, top of the line great scientist, unfortunately, he was not recognised in his own motherland where he was born and brought up. USA progressed because of science. Salam would have inspired a lot of people if he had been living in Pakistan, his own country. No society can flourish with hatred, Zarrar vehemently added. He said others are getting benefits from the achievements of this great man. However, Zarrar accepted the fact that hatred which has no boundaries and limitations is everywhere and in every country in one form or another. He added that hatred is prevailing in India and it is being spread even in USA too. About his novel ‘Pureland’ and Abdul Salam’s connection with it, Zarrar explained that Salam is the main character of his novel and it is purely fiction only. According to Zarrar, theme of the book is that a child is born in a village of Pakistan. He went abroad and got Nobel Prize. Because of patriotism he wants to come back home. Unfortunately, he could not come back to his motherland to serve it just because environment was not favorable for him.
Zarrar has already been nominated for the Prestigious Literary Award in Pakistan for this highly appreciated literary debut titled “Pureland”. According to many reviews, published in the internationally acknowledged newspapers and literary magazines in the West and USA, “Pureland” is already making a lot of waves in the international circles of the writers .Some of the reviews have stated that “Pureland” is dedicated to the late Dr Abdus Salam — “who loved a nation that never loved him back” — and the storyline as well as the blurb try to highlight this connection. It is Said’s attempt to grapple with the politics of Pakistan that makes this novel noticeable, apart from the fact that it signifies a promising first attempt. Zarrar Said is a New York-based finance professional who has just released his first book, “Pureland.”
Zarrar Said’s Pureland presents logical conclusion to that great act of collective and individual delusion. When Said’s novel begins, Pureland, obviously based on Pakistan, has been taken over by Caliphate. The narrator of the novel is (supposedly) a dreaded terrorist working for Caliphate, now under arrest for killing the scientific genius, Salim Agha. It is this terrorist/ assassin’s confession that provides us with the text of the novel.
“Pureland” is described as “a tour-de-force novel about a nation that has lost its way.” Task has been difficult for Said but he did not write this book for himself, it was a story that was waiting to be told. The magical realism in the story is visible throughout from the levitating saint to the witch-like mother. Said has even incorporated a love story amid the political aspects of the story between Agha and Laila Khan.
With “Pureland,” Said wanted to make sure his writing was relevant and easy to comprehend for the average reader because it has an important message for humanity. Moreover, ‘Pureland’ is a product of Zarrar’s profound desires to bring back the people to book reading.
“Cultures will suffer from prejudices that they keep. One example is Germany losing Einstein to anti-Semitism. MF Hussain spent the last years of his life in exile because of Hindu fundamentalists who wanted to slay him. In the same way, Pakistan lost out on Abdus Salam’s achievements,” Zarrar said and told a unique incident in which a European Professor, who is in Pakistan to teach Engineering at a local University, told me:“I am here from Abdus Slam Foundation, and I appreciate your dedicated feelings for the great man.” He added: “Salam is still giving back to his motherland even after death”.
At the end of the interview, Zarrar concluded the discussion with these words: “We cannot afford to be culturally monogamous, meaning we need multiple voices in our discourse in order to move forward”.