Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The end of Shabkhoon

The era of modernist Urdu writing has ended with the end of Shabkhoon's publication announced by the magazine recently. No other magazine in the subcontinent of Indo-Pak touched the standard, prestige and popularity, all three, that this magazine established under the able leadership of the legendary literary critic of our time, Shamsur Rehman Faruqi.

When I read this announcement, I had mixed feelings. On the one hand, I felt that Urdu writers lost a magazine that connected them throughtout the world in an unprecedented, unparalled way, but on the other hand, I realized that Mr. Faruqi deserved and needed this break after long, dedicated efforts of making this magazine a beacon of light for old and young writers. I believe the magazine has already achieved (with an extra mile) the goal that it had set for itself without any apparent manifesto forty years ago.

I consider this a wise decision on two counts. Firstly, it wouldn't be worth the risk of losing its hard earned image, should Mr. Faruqi have decided to let the magazine continue to be published by an editor other than himself. Secondly, I had already begun to see a caul de sac of the kind of writing Shabkhoon championed throughout its long life. In my view, Urdu writing today needs a departure, a new direction for which the closing of this magazine has, in disguise, paved the way, but, let's be frank, there's no one in the horizon who is qualified enough to take the step forward. Instead, I can see a long winter, already round the corner, that will overtake Urdu literature before it regenerates itself.

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