Faith and Feminism in Pakistan
Religous Agency or Secular Autonomy?
by Afiya S. Zia
Rs. 1195 Rs.1015
Are secular aims, politics, and sensibilities impossible, undesirable and impracticable for Muslims and Islamic states? Should Muslim women be exempted from feminist attempts at liberation from patriarchy and its various expressions under Islamic laws and customs? Considerable literature on the entanglements of Islam and secularism has been produced in the post-9/11 decade and a large proportion of it deals with the “Woman Question”. Many commentators critique “the secular” and “Western feminism,” and the racialising backlash that accompanied the occupation of Muslim countries during the “War on Terror” military campaign launched by the U.S. government after the September 11 attacks in 2001. Implicit in many of these critical works is the suggestion that it is Western secular feminism that is the motivating driver and permanent collaborator – along with other feminists, secularists and human rights activists in Muslim countries – that sustains the West’s actual and metaphorical “war on Islam and Muslims.” Faith and Feminism addresses this post-9/11 critical trope and its implications for women’s movements in Muslim contexts. The relevance of secular feminist activism is illustrated with reference to some of the nation-wide, working-class women’s movements that have surged throughout Pakistan under religious militancy: polio vaccinators, health workers, politicians, peasants and artists have been directly targeted, even assassinated, for their service and commitment to liberal ideals. Afiya Zia contends that Muslim women’s piety is no threat against the dominant political patriarchy, but their secular autonomy promises transformative changes for the population at large, and thereby effectively challenges Muslim male dominance.
Publisher: Folio Books
Publishing date: May 2018
Rights: South Asia
Availability: In Stock
Joys and Jitters of Many Journeys
by Razi Azmi
A World Unveiled captures Razi Azmi’s many journeys spanning decades across Africa, Asia, North and South America, and Russia, all undertaken with something approaching religious zeal. This is a compelling travelogue with many elements: personal stories, adventures, social encounters, historical facts, geographical descriptions, anecdotes and more. The author shares not just his passion for travel and the thrill of his journeys but also the frustrations and annoyances that inevitably accompany the intrepid traveller: moments of ecstasy and excitement interspersed with frustrations, dangers and vagaries of visas. As Razi Azmi describes his fascinating trips in A World Unveiled, he seems to take you along with him to his numerous destinations.
“Razi Azmi chronicles his world-wide adventures in the great and enduring tradition of travel writers from Marco Polo and Ibn Battuta to Richard Haliburton and Paul Theroux. A keen observer and meticulous penman, he records in fascinating detail his journeys from tiny specks of nations like Lesotho to the vast steppes of Russia and the wide Canadian prairies. Throughout, his descriptions are colourful and witty and evoke the very character of the lands and peoples he visits.”
– B. R. Burg, Former Professor, Arizona State University
“Of many reasons to read this book, three stand out in particular: Razi Azmi has been to hundreds of places most people will never get to; he’s talked to more people in more languages than most people ever will; and he has a sense of humour more profound than most travel writers.”
– Carl Pletsch, Professor Emeritus, University of Colorado
“Razi Azmi writes with empathy and respect for the lands, people and their cultures. I am particularly impressed by his detailed observations and descriptions of the people and places in Africa, the continent of my birth and growth. But it wasn’t until I read Razi’s travelogue that I realised how little I knew about my own continent.”
– Ali Tunne Godana, Kenyan Travel Enthusiast
“Razi Azmi, like me, was born with itchy feet, which took us far and away to different parts of the world. His accounts of India in particular—the places, the train odysseys, the bustling mood—are fascinating to read. I salute him for his travels and insightful narration of his experiences covering much of the world.”
– Sandip Hor, Indian Travel Writer and Photographer
“Razi Azmi gives us a poignant, simultaneous look at geographic, demographic and political landscapes. He’s a polyglot with as many interests and stories. Unlike accidental tourists, he follows an intentional course, with articulate conversations about both the structured and serendipitous. And he is fearless in doing so, following the George Packer model (the Atlantic): ‘A writer who’s afraid to tell people what they don’t want to hear has chosen the wrong trade.’ Azmi should never trade his trade; he demonstrates joy, courage and candour in his timely reflections .”
– Jerry Pattengale, Professor, Indiana Wesleyan University
“Packed with fascinating details and insights, A World Unveiled brings to life the infinity of meandering plains, the aromas escaping deep from within narrow bazaars. It is a gift for these times, when so much has changed for the intrepid and curious traveler alike.”
– Amna Zuberi, Pakistani Travel and Documentary Photographer
Publisher: Folio Books
Release date: July 15, 2021
Pages: 336 including 21 maps and 22 photos
Availability: In Stock
Poetry for a New Generation
Rs. 500 | $ 7.00
This is an unusual book — the focus is not on what Ghalib means but on what Ghalib makes us think of contemporary issues. It puts Ghalib to work and brings Ghalib to life. It is an invitation to think with Ghalib about all the big issues — faith and religion, us and them, the nature of divinity, being and nothingness, the importance of thinking for oneself, what it means to believe, and what it takes to be human. It is a roller-coaster ride with one of the most creative minds of all time.
“To think with Ghalib is to think with a fifteen-hundred-year-old sub-continental tradition of dissent that passes through Lal Ded, Kabir, Nanak and Ravidas before it reaches him. The only reason his name sounds odd in their saintly company is that, outside invisible lovers of poetry, he did not leave behind a panth. One can only be grateful to Altaf and Basole for giving us a book that is almost an act of inspiration: 30 couplets in English, Urdu, Nagari, and a transliteration of the original in Roman. Then comes the prose reflection on the couplet: lucid and explorative, it leaves us surprised at how we could have lost the questioning path that was there for the following. A panth of non-believers and doubters, then, something the sub-continent needs more than ever.”
– Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, poet, translator and literary critic
“Thinking with Ghalib is an invitation to South Asian readers to delve into, engage with, and enjoy the unique imagination of the founder of Urdu poetic discourse, shaping the creative orientations of generations through the printed media and expanding schools. By focusing on couplets, Altaf and Basole ask the reader to join them in a quest to experience tradition and modernity as a continuous public debate through one of the enduring forms of artistic expression in our cultures. A brilliant contribution to understanding the past in the present.”
– Ashraf Ghani, co-author, Afghanistan: A Lexicon
“With unusual clarity and a genuine sense of wonder, Altaf and Basole deliver a careful dialogue in thinking through Ghalib’s euphorically elevating verses as he romps through temple, tower and palace, manipulating complex realities in staggering two-line zingers. A must-read for people of all ages and all nationalities.”
– Azra Raza, co-author, A Tribute to Ghalib: Twenty-One Ghazals Reinterpreted
“Mirza Ghalib’s very survival as an inevitable and constant reference point for great poetry, and oftentimes for life’s travails, is a testimony to both the immediacy of his relevance and his transcendence of time. What makes him the extraordinary poet is his extreme sensitivity to the richness of his cultural heritage as well as its attributes of imprisonment. Ghalib imbibes the richness and yet rebels against it. Questioning from within is the single most striking characteristic of his poetry in tune with questioning that has sustained human civilization’s quintessential spirit through the ages: from Socrates to the Charvakas, from Mansoor al-Hallaj and Kabir to Descartes. This amazing experiment in unearthing the layers of meaning(s) in Ghalib’s couplets from their innermost depths sets a superb example of seeking out the soul of poetry. In any case, dissent resides at the very heart of ghazal, the poetry of love, as its raison d’ȇtre. Anjum Altaf and Amit Basole, both Professors of Economics, engaging in this literary endeavour also questions the neat disciplinary divides that academics are so enamoured of.”
– Harbans Mukhia, former Professor of History, Jawaharlal Nehru University and Trustee, Ghalib Institute, New Delhi
“Here is a unique attempt — often brilliant, wise, provocative and always bravely original — to help young people, especially from South Asia, to discover (or rediscover) the poetry of Ghalib, and in it find both questions and possible pathways to answers to some of the most urgent and perplexing riddles of our times.”
– Harsh Mander, author and Director of Centre for Equity Studies, New Delhi
“This a truly invaluable collection of specific Ghalib couplets, reprinted in the Roman, Arabic and Devnagari scripts and accompanied by an informed interpretation in English by Anjum Altaf and Amit Basole. The two authors succeed in highlighting the timelessness of Ghalib’s work and skilfully place his ideas and the profound questions about our world — and indeed human nature itself — within a modern context. The importance of this book lies in the fact that it is aimed at a young audience in the sub-continent and the diaspora. The discussion on each and every couplet succeeds in simplifying, yet highlighting, the complexities and nuances of Ghalib’s words. In the process, the book draws attention to subtleties of the Urdu language itself — and is likely to encourage young readers to reach out for more … I wish my daughters had had a book like this to introduce them to Ghalib when they were at school!”
– Muneeza Shamsie, writer and critic
“These selections, explanations and reflections will bring Indians and Pakistanis closer to Ghalib’s genius and, inshallah, to one another.”
– Rajmohan Gandhi, historian and author of Punjab: A History from Aurangzeb to Mountbatten
“This remarkable book offers yet another way to enjoy Ghalib, through an in-depth, contextual and nuanced exposition of thirty of his couplets. Two centuries after his time, the great bard comes back to life in the skilled analysis of Altaf and Basole, giving new meaning to the line hui muddat ke Ghalib mar gaya, par yaad aata hai.”
– Raza Mir, author of Ghalib: A Thousand Desires
“This collection of Ghalib’s couplets was thoughtfully designed to be accessible to language learners at all levels. The writing style is light, even as it engages readers in an essential exploration of what Ghalib’s poetry means now. Each interpretation is deeply grounded in an understanding of Ghalib and his intellectual and social milieu, as well as a profound sensitivity to the poetry itself. In addition to a greater understanding of each couplet, readers will acquire the habits that will help them appreciate the world of Urdu poetry on their own. I only wish there had been a resource like this when I was learning Urdu.”
– Roanne L. Kantor, Assistant Professor of English, Stanford University
“Thinking with Ghalib is a welcome addition to the large archive on Ghalib for three reasons: first, because it makes this nineteenth century poet relevant to the twenty-first century readers in South Asia and the world; secondly, because it is a product of the collaboration of two prominent Pakistani and Indian intellectuals at a distressful juncture of our history which is a good omen for peaceful coexistence through shared intellectual and aesthetic continuities; and, thirdly, because it is in three scripts—the Perso-Arabic script of Urdu, the Devanagari script of Hindi and other Indian languages and the Roman script used for English and other Western languages which makes Ghalib available not only to South Asians but a very large part of the world. This book, I hope, will be the pioneer in the fashion for rewriting our classics so that they appeal to the present generation.”
– Tariq Rahman, Dean, School of Education, Beaconhouse National University, Lahore; author of Language and Politics in Pakistan
“As a Ghalib-lover I often read him and apart from the ecstasy I receive from some of his couplets, what strikes me poignantly is his humanism. Like Shakespeare, Ghalib is always in sympathy with human nature in all its shapes and degrees, elevations and depressions. This is the main premise of Thinking with Ghalib, a meticulously researched book by Anjum Altaf and Amit Basole.
“That Ghalib is for all times is an acknowledged fact. Altaf and Basole explain why it is so. More: they explore the layered meanings of Ghalib’s couplets and relate them to the critical political, psychological and economic issues of our times. Students of literature would benefit hugely from this book which ought to be a part of the syllabi of our universities.”
– Zia Mohyeddin, President of NAPA and author of A Carrot is a Carrot, The God of My Idolatry, and Theatrics
Publisher: Folio Books
Release date: July 10, 2021
Availability: In Stock
Chinese Poetry of Two Millenia
Translated by Ha Poong Kim
This Collection of nature poems of China includes nearly 250 poems by thirty-three poets over two millennia. Part One provides selections from the two oldest anthologies: the Shi Jing (“Classic of Songs”) and the Chu Ci (“Songs of the South”). Included in this part are folk songs of Ancient China as well as two long poems by Qu Yuan (340? – 278? BCE), the first known poet of China. Part Two begins with Tao Yuanming of the Easter Jin (317 – 420) and includes not only the well-known poets of Tang (618-906) and Song (960-1279) periods, such as Wang Wei, Li Bai, Du Fu, Bai Juyi, Su Shi and Lu You, but also twenty lesser known poets.
Publisher: Folio Books
Publishing date: June 2018
Covid-19 Shakes the World
by Slavoj Zizek
Rs. 795 Rs. 399
As an unprecedented global pandemic sweeps the planet, who better than the supercharged Slovenian philosopher, Slavoj Žižek to uncover its deeper meanings, marvel at its mind-boggling paradoxes, and speculate on the profundity of its consequences, all in a manner that will have you sweating profusely and gasping for breath?
We live in a moment when the greatest act of love is to stay distant from the object of your affection. When governments renowned for ruthless cuts in public spending can suddenly conjure up trillions. When toilet paper becomes a commodity as precious as diamonds. And when, according to Žižek, a new form of communism may be the only way of averting a descent into global barbarism.
Written with his customary brio and love of analogies in popular culture (Quentin Tarantino and H.G. Wells sit next to Hegel and Marx in these pages), Žižek provides a concise and provocative snapshot of the crisis as it widens, engulfing us all.
Slavoj Žižek is one of the most prolific and well-known philosophers and cultural theorists in the world today. His inventive, provocative body of work mixes Hegelian metaphysics, Lacanian psychoanalysis, and Marxist dialectic in order to challenge conventional wisdom and accepted verities on both the Left and the Right.
“An impressive feat… [Žižek] at his most powerful.” —The Guardian
“Passages of beauty… a hire-wire juxtaposition of far-left political theory and pop culture, held together by the force of [Žižek’s] rumpled charm.” —BuzzFeed
“Žižek leaves no social or cultural phenomenon untheorized, and is master of the counterintuitive observation.” —The New Yorker
“The most dangerous philosopher in the West.” —Adam Kirsch, The New Republic