Derrida Haramda! – Reading Deconstruction In Pakistan

Haider Shahbaz in The Friday Times:

The title story of Julien’s short story collection Derrida Haramda! introduces us to Shahid Wirk (or, as he is lovingly called by his friends, Sheeda) from Sheikhupura, who writes a surreal novel “Nazia” inspired by André Breton’s iconic surrealist work Nadja. Shahid’s novel is as an absurd piece of writing about a strange woman who haunts the streets of Sheikhupura. The narrator follows the woman at night, walking the city’s empty streets, and as he walks and walks, he is slowly confronted by the alienation he feels in the city, whose streets have emptied as if the city had been wiped clean of humans and animals by a poisonous gas. Julien’s stories often engage these peculiar and, at times, monstrous relationships and affiliations between European and South Asian creative work.

For example, one story follows Stephen, a British filmmaker who is trying to recreate Macbeth in the Cholistan Desert, and another story, “Feroz Iqbal ki Chori,” introduces us to a Pakistani musician who composes Western classical music inspired by folktales such as Heer Ranjha for the prestigious Royal Albert Hall in London. In these and other stories, Julien’s mixture of supposedly distinct Western and Eastern forms often hints at the worldly realities that shape literature and its audiences.

More here.