Athar Tahir’s debut English novel – Novine – was launched

LAHORE: Poet Athar Tahir’s debut novel in English, The Second Coming, was launched at the Quaid-i-Azam Library on Friday.

Read his paper, “One Way to Love: The Second Coming of Athar Tahir and the Pakistani Idiom”, Dr. Waseem Anwar said that the novel has four elementary parts; air, earth, water and fire.

He found the novel very transcultural in its spirit based on his own interest in the Pakistani idiom.

He said that the novel reflects the author’s literary ‘second coming’ as an internationally recognized poet and represents the author’s pictorial thoughtfulness.

He said that because of the amalgamation of Thai and Pakistani cultures, the novel takes us back to EM Foster’s Marabar Caves in Passage to India.

“It reminds us of the British romantic traditions of love, which in The Second Coming is love lost forever and hurts not only the author but also the readers.”

dr. Anwar referred to the poem One Way of Love by Robert Browning to compare it to the love story in the novel. He called the novel a journey of the author within himself. dr. Anwar said that Lahore has a central place in the novel as the protagonist belongs to the city and returns to it.

Professor Navid Shahzad said that The Second Coming could be Tahir’s debut novel, but it cannot be discussed without reference to the journey he undertook before the novel.

She referred to the author’s contribution to English-language poetry in Pakistan and spoke about him as a poet as well as a man. She called Tahir a cultural and literary nomad whose writings spanned vast regions of the world, both in the East and in the West.

“Whenever he seems to set up a permanent camp, he moves to another horizon.”

Ms. Shahzad spoke about Tahir as a poet who managed to write 20 books in different genres. She recalled the beginning of her friendship with Tahir when they were both mentored by English-language poet Taufiq Rafat.

Speaking about The Second Coming, she said that the novel is set in a familiar but unknown area. She said Tahir was keenly observant, his narrative did not disappoint, and the language, character and narrative all had a sharp and mischievous wit. The novel revealed as much about Tahir as about its main character, she said commenting on the book.

Professor Dr. Rashid Latif Khan praised Athar Tahir for his extensive research into the cultures of Thailand and Pakistan to write his debut novel.

The way he described Thai culture and language was commendable. Professor Khan said the book had two main characters, a middle-aged Pakistani man and another Thai woman.

He described falling in love in middle age as quite natural because all men have gone through it. Looking at the novel from a social perspective, he said that the girl in the novel refused to kiss the Pakistani man because he was a Muslim.

He added that religious bias exists everywhere in the world.

dr. Khan lamented the loss of the literary culture of Lahore, a city that had hosted large mushairas and literary gatherings when he was a young man.

Published in Svitanje, January 28, 2023

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