Conversation with Aamer Hussein

March 24, 2015
Aamer Hussein reading an excerpt from The Swan's Wife

Aamer Hussein reading an excerpt from The Swan's Wife

Aamer Hussein, famed author of short stories in English and (more recently) Urdu, sat down for literary conversation with Desi Writers Lounge at Liberty Books (BBQ Tonight Branch). Starting slightly late due to traffic jams, the event saw moderate attendance as new writers as well as established novelists listened with rapt attention to Aamer as Farheen, Karachi representative of DWL, moderated the session.

Aamer Hussein shared several pearls of wisdom as he talked about his skill as multilingual who can read Italian, French, English, Urdu and Persian while devouring English translations of various notable works written in Arabic, Russian, Japanese and many other European and East Asian languages. Taught at an early age to read and write in English and later Persian, Aamer experimented with his writing styles until he published his first work at the age of 32 and picked up French and Italian languages in the meantime, significantly expanding his literary horizon. His more recent work has been in Urdu language where he published quite a few short stories that found their way on paper specifically because he attempted to write them in Urdu ... they were stuck with him for a long time and Aamer was unable to express them in English.

Aamer also read passages of his stories from his book "The Swan's Wife", giving the audience of taste of his literary skills. What was significant was the fact that these stories exist in both Urdu and English, as the audience experienced when Farheen read the Urdu version. While one story had a more universal appeal, the Urdu version (despite being the same story) had an incredibly localized feel. Aamer had expressed his ideas on writing in multiple languages that stories are not bound by the language but their appeal and audience would be certainly change when read in another language. Usually translated, the essence of the story needs to be carried forward in the translated text even if it requires a certain chance of elements of the story.

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