OBITUARY

Top Urdu writer captured horror of India partition

The history of Pakistan and India was the subject of some of Pakistani author Intizar Hussain's works.
The history of Pakistan and India was the subject of some of Pakistani author Intizar Hussain's works. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LAHORE • Pakistani author Intizar Hussain, widely recognised as one of the greatest Urdu writers in history, died on Tuesday aged 92, according to his doctor.

He died in the eastern city of Lahore, following a period of illness.

The prolific author was known for his novels, short stories, poetry and columns.

He belatedly earned worldwide recognition when he was shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize in 2013 and was awarded France's Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Letters) a year later.

Born in Dibai in India, he emigrated to the newly formed Pakistan in 1947, an experience he wrote about 50 years later in The First Morning.

The short story captured the horror and optimism that accompanied the Partition of India where an estimated 14 million people were displaced, the largest mass migration in human history.

The history of Pakistan and the subcontinent was also the setting for his acclaimed novel Basti, published in 1979 and translated into English later.

He was also a regular literary columnist for Pakistan's leading English-language daily newspaper, Dawn and in later years, became known as a voice of moderation and advocate of what he saw as the subcontinent's ancient traditions of pluralism and tolerance.

Fellow Urdu writer Munnu Bhai said: "Intizar Hussain was a man of letters. His death has left a huge gap in the literary circle of the subcontinent that would be felt in the centuries to come."

Hussain's wife, Aliya Begum, died in 2004 and the couple had no children.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 04, 2016, with the headline 'Top Urdu writer captured horror of India partition'. Print Edition | Subscribe