Best of Faiz
Raza Rumi
O CITY OF LIGHTS by Khalid Hasan Oxford University Press, 2011, 314 pp., 495
April 2011, volume 35, No 4

Khalid Hasan, the one-time compatriot and Press Secretary to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and journalist par excellence is well known for his literary writings. For years the life and times of Madame Noor Jehan have been celebrated in his writings. He has translated several titans of Urdu literature including Manto, Abbas, and Faiz. In his endeavours, Hasan has made an immeasurable contribution to introduce Urdu literature to the English-reading world making them more accessible to many Pakistanis given that the reading culture faces near-extinction in Pakistan. Due to his close association with him as a friend Faiz has been a prominent subject of Khalids writings. The Oxford University Press and Khalid Hasan teamed up to produce a mesmerizing collection of Faizs poetry in English. O City of Lights is not only a collection of Faizs translated verse but also includes accounts of Faizs poetry, stature and place in contemporary Pakistani history as well as snippets of Faizs life in his own words.

O City of Lights is divided in two parts: the first part presents his choicest prose pieces that include a detailed write-up on Faiz and a few interviews translated by Hasan. In addition, there is a fascinating sketch of Faizs childhood days where we learn how he acquired the habit of reading and the encouragement he received from his father to read books from the local library. The picture of Faiz that emerges is in keeping with all past narratives concerning his personality: tolerant, magnanimous, humble and deeply humanistic.

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