A large number of novels have come out in the country, not just in Urdu but in many other languages such as Punjabi and now, increasingly, English. So do we have one piece of fiction-writing that we can call the Great Pakistani Novel?According to its unique writing content and powerful words. I think this novel is one of the Pakistan’s great novel.
The Murder Of Aziz Khan
A few years have passed since the Partition. The chaos has settled; Pakistan is a land of promise and plenty, a place for new beginnings, a place where chancers and hucksters are looking to exploit this bounty.
The corrupt Shah Brothers a family who moved across from India, where they’d never amounted to much want to cash in on this new land of opportunity and set in place the foundations of their business empire. The only thing standing between them and the land they intend to occupy is the landowner Aziz Khan, a man so decent, impartial and kind that Zulfikar Ghose writes in one desperately tender line that if horses could speak, they too would speak of his gentleness.
The novel follows the Shahs’ growing determination to seize Khan’s land, through wheedling, bribing, intimidation and eventually by sheer force. A masterpiece of realism, which is clearly heavily influenced by Thomas Hardy, The Murder of Aziz Khan takes on themes including the confrontation between ancient traditions and contemporary brutality. Khan is all that is good in the world so, naturally, he doesn’t stand a chance.
Even after nearly 50 years since the novel was published, the heart-rending elegance and accuracy with which Ghose describes the corruption and ugliness blighting the very heart of Pakistan has not failed to lose its hammer blow impact.
If there is a quintessential Pakistani novel in English, this is most certainly it. Along with being Hardy’s stylistic heir, which is no minor feat Ghose has created in Khan the ultimate tragic hero on whom we pin our hopes, time and again, even though we know the outcome from the book’s title. Time cannot rob Ghose’s novel of its devastating impact.
If anything, it grows more relevant, as we seek to ask what went wrong in the beginnings of this country to lead it to this stage.