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Ham-`asr Urdu Afsana: Nilofer Iqbal in Conversation With Zahid Hussain

The final session of the Halqa-e-Danish Ham-`asr Urdū Afsānā series took place on November 28, 2019. The series was organized by the Gurmani Centre for Languages and Literature to celebrate contemporary Urdu short-story writers, and continued throughout the fall semester. The guest for the last session was Nilofer Iqbal, an eminent short story writer.

During the two hour long session, moderated by Zahid Hussain, Nilofer Iqbal discussed her literary career, her formative influences, and her writing process. She began by talking about her earliest engagements with the craft of writing, when she wrote in English for her university magazine. However, she deemed the real start of her career to have happened after a friend introduced her to Colonel Muhammad Khan. Writing and the latter encouraged her to write for his humorous Urdu magazine. This led her to gain wider recognition from literary giants of the time such as Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi and Mirza Adeeb.

She also discussed the craft of writing and her practice extensively. She stressed upon the importance of developing strong characters in order to create a powerful story. “It is with the character that a reader empathizes,” she said. Elaborating on this she said: “A well developed character, one that influences the emotions of a reader, is at the heart of any story. Without thoughtfully developed characters one is left with a journalistic account of events, not a short story.” Pay attention to dialouges mannerisms phrases words to create consistent characters.

Towards the end of the session, Nilofar Iqbal read two short stories from her forthcoming collection. The witty humour of “Love Story” and the profound commentary on human nature in “budh” made the audience alternate between peals of laughter and moments of contemplative silence.


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