H.M. Naqvi is the award-winning, Karachi-based author of Home Boy. Translated into German, Italian and Portuguese, Home Boy won the 2011 DSC Prize for South Asian Literature at the Jaipur Literature Festival. Naqvi has worked in the financial services industry, run a slam venue, and taught creative writing at Boston University. He recently participated at the IWP residency at the University of Iowa and is working on his second novel.
H M Naqvi’s Panels:
-PAKISTANI CONTEMPORARY FICTION WRITINGS
You’re an important part of the festival this year with two sessions lined up. How does it feel to be a part of an event that seems to be getting bigger and better with each passing year?
I think this is an extremely wonderful development; a development that couldn’t have taken place 10-15 years ago. I think there’s a critical momentum in discourse in fiction and poetry in Pakistan these days and it’s amazing. I’m very proud that we have enough Urdu and English writers, both young and old, who’ve come here and provided enough momentum to produce such an animate festival.
Since the Karachi Literature Festival is happening so close to the Jaipur Festival, there are bound to be comparisons between the two. Do you think it’s fair? Especially this early on?
I’ve attended many festivals since the publication of my novel and I think all festivals are different. One can compare Karachi Literature Festival to the Brooklyn Literature Festival or even to the Galle Literary Festival for that matter. All such comparisons are superficial, and in some way, silly. We have our own thing going here. If one wants to attend a very large festival, then they should go to Jaipur. If however one’s looking for a regional flavor in this part of the world then they should come to Karachi. It’s important to have a more sophisticated approach on this phenomenon.
Who were you most eagerly looking forward to meet at the festival this year?
I think Anatol Lieven who recently wrote a book called ‘Pakistan, a Hard Country’ is someone I’m particularly interested in hearing. There are of course many other literary figures that populate this festival who I’d like to meet. I enjoyed listening to Hanif Kureishi as well and some of the people from India like Siddharta Deb is someone I definitely wouldn’t want to miss.
What, in your opinion, is the importance of such literature festivals in a country like Pakistan—and a city like Karachi—where one would assume that arts and literature have quite literally been forced to take the back-seat?
This festival is a testament to the fact that only in a place like Karachi, only at a time like this, can you have a festival on this scale! I don’t think our art and literature have anything to worry about. The last ten years have given people the freedom to express themselves in ways we never thought possible. There are new plays at the Arts Council every week, there are regular functions at the T2F, there are television programs devoted to fiction. Asif Farukhi hosts a wonderful program that’s devoted entirely to fiction. Then there’s a show on FM89 which is again, exclusively dedicated to fiction.
This doesn’t happen in a many place in the world. Forget Faislabad and Dera Ghazi Khan but Vienna, Austria, Brussels, Belgium—they don’t have literary festivals like these because they can’t. Vienna could maybe have a Mozart concert, but they’d never have a literary festival.
So when can we expect to get our hands on a new H M Naqvi title?
I’d say about a year. Yeah, you’ll definitely have to give it a year.
Any spoilers? What will it be called?
It’s a big bad comic epic set in Karachi. That’s all I can give you at the moment!