Paquistán también existe
Opacada por la emergente, arrasadora literatura de la India, la literatura paquistaní escrita en inglés siempre ha sido considerada la hermana menos talentosa, la Heinrich Mann de esa familia, digamos. Sin embargo, el éxito de The Reluctant Fundamentalist de Mohsin Hamid (que estuvo en la shortlist del Booker hace dos años), una novela que busqué infrutuosamente en España por cierto, ha hecho voltear un poco el reflector hacia la hermana menos afortunada. Claro, justo le tocó un momento en el que la literatura India está boyante, pero los paquistanís defienden su propio mini-boom en The Guardian:
"Some of us have been writing for many years but suddenly we've had four or five novels coming out together and that's created a buzz," said Shamsie, whose latest work is an ambitious story that starts off in Second World War Japan and moves to post-9/11 Afghanistan. "Indian writing has been established for 25 years or more, since Midnight's Children (Salman Rushdie's book, published in 1981). Pakistani writing is very much in its infancy. "Pakistani writing is like the new young fast bowler on the scene but Indian writing is like the spinner who's been going for years and whose greatness is assumed."
Desde luego, la política ocupa el tema central de esta literatura escrita, hasta el punto de que es casi inconcebible una novela sin este tema (Mohsin Hamid lo justifica así: "Great fiction comes from the tension that produces those dramatic political developments"). Además, las obras más exitosas han sido realizadas por jóvenes privilegiados, una pequeña élite que ha logrado educarse fuera del país:
Readers have embraced the political nature of much of the new Pakistani fiction, looking perhaps for an explanation of the country's turmoil, which has accelerated after it sided with the West in the "war on terror". "If you've grown up in Pakistan, to sit down and write something that's not political is almost impossible," said Hanif, a former air force pilot. "I'm sure that the headlines make people curious about Pakistan but when they read these stories, I hope it's done on their own merit." The Pakistani writers causing most excitement tend to be young and from the country's upper class, having grown up in Pakistan in the 1980s. Mohsin Hamid said that, for Pakistan's small English-speaking elite who had been able to live an insulated lifestyle up to the 1980s, coming of age under the oppressive dictatorship of General Zia was a "dramatic wrenching change" that created a fertile ground for writers. "There's a desire now to dine on Pakistani writing cuisine. It's coming at the same time as some really amazing Pakistani writing," said Hamid, who lives in London. "Great fiction comes from the tension that produces those dramatic political developments. Pakistan has been going through really interesting times. As writers process that through their fiction, they're coming up with an art with a real urgency and personal need."
En The Guardian aparece, además, una lista de libros al respecto para no perderse:
Kamila Shamsie's epic novel Burnt Shadows tells the story of three families, spanning decades and continents. Stretching from the detonation of the nuclear bomb in Nagasaki in 1945 to Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11 via India and Pakistan, it's a sweeping narrative with a breath-taking climax. Shamsie was born in Pakistan and lives in London.
Mohammed Hanif's darkly comic first novel A Case of Exploding Mangoes - shortlisted for the Guardian's first book award last year - takes as its starting point the plane crash in which Pakistan's military dictator General Zia ul Haq died on 17 August 1988, offering increasingly bizarre explanations for the event, from mechanical failure to a blind woman's curse.
In Other Rooms, Other Wonders is a collection of linked short stories about an extended Pakistani landowning family in Lahore. Daniyal Mueenuddin, who practised law in New York before returning to Pakistan to manage the family farm, has created a revealing glimpse into the complexities of Pakistani class and culture.
The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid sees Pakistani Princeton graduate Changez buttonhole an American stranger in a Lahore cafe to tell how his high-flying career and budding relationship in Manhattan started to crumble following the attacks on 9/11. The narrative shows how Changez really feels about the attacks. Hamid grew up in Lahore, attended Princeton like his protagonist, and lives in London.