It’s been a hellish year, says ‘Noon’ author Aatish Taseer - Pakistan Today

It’s been a hellish year, says ‘Noon’ author Aatish Taseer

Expectations of acclaimed writer Aatish Taseer have been high ever since VS Naipaul dubbed him “a young writer to watch”, but that hasn’t stopped the British-born writer and journalist taking risks and tackling tough subjects. His recently-released second novel and third book, ‘Noon’, traces Rehan Tabassum’s tumultuous journey through India and Pakistan over two decades, addressing class conflicts, fundamentalists and political violence. The novel begins with the death of a young man’s father, a cruel echo of Taseer’s own personal tragedy: earlier this year his father, Pakistani businessman and former Governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer was assassinated by his bodyguard. Taseer talks about his state of mind, his non-existent sartorial style, and the year that was.
What’s your current state of mind?
Calm mostly; but a little restless too: I’m on the verge of beginning something new.
The presence of elsewhere is very prominent in ‘Noon’. Have you ever given into that desire to run away?
In a sense, yes. Because the kind of flight that is suggested in ‘Noon’ is not simply the act of leaving, but also of staying while insulating oneself from one’s environment. And we all, to some extent, do that in India and Pakistan.
Do you have sympathy or pity for Rehan?
Yes, and some contempt and frustration too. He’s very passive. This is a fictional world being robust: it must throw up a range of emotions.
British tabloids dubbed you as Captain Condom because of the cape and tights you donned to promote safe sex at University. What’s your sartorial style?
They made that up; I never—much that I would have liked to—wore a cape and tights. I was not that kind of super hero. I have no sartorial style. All I’ve ever wanted is a uniform.
If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
A politician. The Prime Minister, maybe.
It’s been an extremely difficult year for you. How would you look back at 2011?
A hellish year. Full of futility and violence.
What’s next for you?
I only wish I knew what was next. It’s still fighting its way out.

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