A Criticism of Balochi Fiction
By Fazal Baloch
Balochi Kessahi Labzank
(Research and Criticism)
Dr. Abdul Saboor Baloch
Publisher: Balochi Academy Quetta
The age of Balochi fiction is not as old as that of Balochi poetry. The latter has a history of more than six centuries while the former has a short span of just six decades. Sher Mohammad Mari’s Ganook ( The Madman ) is marked as the first short story in Balochi language. It appeared in 1951. Until 1975 there was no evidence of the novel in Balochi fiction. In 1976 the doyen of Balochi literature Syed Zahoor Shah Hashmi wrote down “Nazuk” the first ever Balochi novel.
However, the pace of Balochi novel is much slower when it is compared to that of short story’s. In the last four decades the sum of Balochi novels couldn’t reach the fifty mark. From 1976 to 2000, no fewer than ten novels were on the shelf of Balochi fiction. However, the past decade witnessed an unprecedented surge in Balochi novel. Some 20 novels appeared this time around while the first three years of this decade were the best of the all. These three years were single-handedly dominated by renowned fiction writer Munir Ahmed Badini who has authored more than fifty novels in this short period of time. Mr. Badini is a former Secretary Education in the Balochistan Government.
Nevertheless, the scenario of criticism of Balochi fiction, especially novel is even grimmer. So far the genre has failed to receive the type of criticism it merits. Only a handful of articles contributed in literary journals and of mainly didn’t meet the criteria of criticism.
Abdul Saboor Baloch, the current Chairman of the Balochi Department at the University of Balochistan, Quetta, has inally managed to open the debate over criticism of Balochi fiction. He has come up with voluminous book Balochi Kessahi Labzank (Balochi Fiction) that runs up to 370 pages.
Balochi Kessahi Labzank is the first comprehensive work in Balochi literature that widely discusses the origin, evolution and trends of Balochi novel. Besides, it is the first research thesis from the University of Balochistan that is in Balochi language. Prior to this, doctoral research, the research works were either in English or Urdu. The writer himself wrote his thesis for MPhil on the life and literary contributions of renowned Balochi literary figure Mir Gul Khan Naseer. That work was originally written in Urdu and published in 2000.
Before switching to Balochi novel, Dr. Saboor Baloch, in the first chapter, discusses the roots of Balochi fiction. According to him, the art of storytelling in the Baloch society is as old as that in Greece, Mesopotamia and ancient India. He claims that there are a few folk tales which supersede even the Vedic civilization. But surprisingly he hasn’t provided any substantial proof in support of his claim that makes readers a bit skeptical about his unsubstantiated claims.
The book also depicts the critical vision of the writer. He seems to belong to the category of critics who somehow deems it appropriate for writers to stay committed to an ideology. While commenting on Ghani Parwaz’s art, he writes “…. In most of the cases Parwaz ardently follows an ideology which is not a bad idea altogether”. But at the same time he criticizes that his obsession with ideology reduces the horizons of the theme and turned his characters into puppets.
The writer has also compared Syed’s “Nazuk” with Abdul Haleem Sharar’s “Aziza-i-Misr” on the basis of the few similarities between Nazuk and Juliana the protagonists ofNazuk and Aziza-i-Misr respectively. Though both the characters represent two different cultural backgrounds, they share the same miseries which brought them on the same page. This mode of comparative study is quite new in Balochi fiction.
Besides Balochi novels, the writer has also briefly shed light on English, French, Russian and Persian novels translated in Balochi language. However, he only mentions the titles and names of translators and does not discuss the impact of these novels on Balochi fiction. Balochi literature was introduced to the realm of novel through these translations. Ghous Bux Sabir is the man who first translated the Old Man and the Sea into Balochi in 1967. Nine years later, Balochi embraced its first novel Nazuk as mentioned earlier.
By and large, “Balochi fiction” is a good read that helps set the dimensions of criticism of Balochi fiction.
A Criticism of Balochi Fiction