Aatish Taseer

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Aatish Taseer (born 27 November 1980), is a British-born writer-journalist, and the son of Indian journalist Tavleen Singh and late Pakistani politician and businessman Salmaan Taseer.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Born in London to a married Salman Taseer and Tavleen Singh, Taseer grew up in New Delhi, before going off to a residential school in Kodaikanal.[1] Later he studied at Amherst College [3] in Massachusetts, earning his Bachelor of Arts degree in French and Political Science in 2003.

Career[edit]

Taseer has worked for Time magazine,[4] and as a freelance journalist also written for Prospect magazine,[5] The Sunday Times, The Sunday Telegraph, Financial Times, TAR magazine and Esquire.

Books[edit]

Taseer has written a highly acclaimed translation of Saadat Hasan Manto's short stories from the original Urdu, Manto: Selected Stories (2008).

His first book Stranger to History : A Son's Journey Through Islamic Lands (2009), part memoir-part travelogue, has been translated into more than 14 languages and hailed as a 'must-read' for anyone attempting to understand the Muslim world.[6][7] The book caught the attention of Nobel Laureate Sir V. S. Naipaul, who labelled Taseer 'a young writer to watch'. His first novel, The Temple-Goers (2010) was also very well received; it was shortlisted for the 2010 Costa First Novel Award.

A second novel, Noon (2011), was published by Faber & Faber (USA), Picador (UK and India).

A third novel, The Way Things Were (2014) is scheduled to be published by Pan Macmillan (UK and India) by early December.[8]

Journalism[edit]

Taseer's opinion pieces have garnered both attention and critical appreciation. David Goodhart drew attention to Taseer's piece on feudal Pakistan, Travels with the mango king[9] in his article Prospect’s 10 Most Influential Articles.[10] More recently he wrote a piece on the controversy surrounding the possible construction of the "Ground Zero Mosque" in Manhattan, Tolerance test for New York.[11]

Since his father's assassination on 6 January 2011 Taseer has written, about the situation in Pakistan leading up to and following the incident. These pieces attempt to go far beyond the immediate events surrounding his father's murder, A piece for the Telegraph [12] published just two days after, extends his view from the incident, providing a broader understanding of what it all means for Pakistan.

On 5 May 2011, a few days after the death of Osama Bin Laden, Taseer wrote a piece in The Financial Times titled "Pakistan’s Rogue Army Runs a Shattered State".[13] It was one of the first pieces of journalism to point to the significance of the fact that Bin Laden had been killed in a Pakistani cantonment town, Abbottabad. In the article Taseer states simply that "he was found in this garrison town because he was the guest of the army." He goes on to unpack the importance of this, saying that the coming-to-light of this fact "represents the moment when perception and reality become one. And what a frightening reality it is: a vast and nuclear-armed military exposed for not just being the enemy of peace in south Asia but probably the ultimate sponsor and protector of terrorism against the west."

On 16 July 2011 The Wall Street Journal published a piece its editors provocatively, and somewhat misleadingly, titled "Why My Father Hated India".[14] Although Taseer wrote using his father's distaste for all things Indian as an example, or metaphor, the article attempted to explain a much bigger question - a question about Pakistan's apparent unhealthy obsession with India and vice versa. It argued that "to understand the Pakistani obsession with India, to get a sense of its special edge — its hysteria — it is necessary to understand the rejection of India, its culture and past, that lies at the heart of the idea of Pakistan", he went on to say that "In the absence of a true national identity, Pakistan defined itself by its opposition to India." As could be expected, the article ignited a firestorm that consumed internet chat-rooms and set Twitter ablaze. The article remained the most emailed and commented-on on the WSJ website[15] for days and at the end of July it was by far the most emailed of the month.

The controversy spread when, following an exchange on Twitter between Pakistani journalist, Ejaz Haider and Indian Member of Parliament and former Indian Union Minister and Under-secretary at the UN, Shashi Tharoor. Haider wrote a column in The Express Tribune titled "Aatish’s Personal Fire", Ejaz stated that Taseer himself seemed to suffer from an identity crisis[16] accusing Taseer of employing "everything except the kitchen sink in order to construct a supposedly linear reality". His central argument was that India - with its massive army arrayed along its border with Pakistan - left Pakistan with no choice but to be deeply concerned with its every move. Tharoor rose to Aatish Taseer's defense; writing in the Deccan Chronicle, in a piece titled "Delusional liberals",[17] he quoted Taseer's original piece extensively and said in general he "admired the young man’s writing", and felt he had made "his point in language that was both sharp [...] heartfelt and accurate". He said that in their vitriolic response to Taseer's piece Pakistan's liberals had exposed themselves and took on Haider point-for-point, saying "that there is not and cannot be an "Indian threat" to Pakistan, simply because there is absolutely nothing Pakistan possesses that India wants." Ejaz Haider subsequently responded strongly stating "Like every other state in the world, Pakistan is also a self-interested state and the rest of the world must live with this fact; three, we have no intention of defenestrating our military, even as we would continue to kick them to extract obedience; four, we don’t need advice from across the border, especially because the Indian pundits crawled on their bellies when Mrs Indira Gandhi slapped her two-year emergency rule. We have seen worse without giving up or giving in. Thank you!"[18] but the controversy flamed-out after this last salvo.

Personal life[edit]

Taseer divides his time between New Delhi and London. Previously, he was in a relationship with Lady Gabriella Windsor, daughter of the Prince and Princess Michael of Kent,[2][19] whom he had met when she was an undergraduate at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island and he at Amherst College in Massachusetts. As of 2016, Taseer is married to an American man named Ryan.[20]

Works[edit]

  • Manto Selected Stories. Random House. ISBN 81-8400-049-9.
  • Stranger to History: A Son's Journey Through Islamic Lands, McClelland & Stewart. 2009. ISBN 0-7710-8425-0.
  • Translated from the English: Terra Islamica. Auf der Suche nach der Welt meines Vaters, translated by Rita Seuß, Verlag C.H. Beck, München 2009
  • The Temple-Goers, Viking. 2010. ISBN 978-0-670-91850-8.
  • Noon, Faber & Faber in the US; by Picador in India and the UK. 2011. ISBN 978-0-86547-858-9.
  • The Way Things Were, Pan Macmillan in UK and India 2014, ISBN 9789382616337.

Awards[edit]

  • "2010 Costa First Novel Award shortlist" for The Temple-Goers.[21][22][23][24][25] The Costa Book Awards started, in 1971, as the Whitbread Literary Awards; from 1985 to 2006 they were known as the Whitbread Book Awards.

Interviews[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Lunch with BS: Aatish Taseer: Passage through Islam Kishore Singh/ New Delhi, Business Standard, 14 April 2009.
  2. ^ a b Uk News The Times, 8 December 2004.
  3. ^ http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-day-i-got-my-green-card-1467385905
  4. ^ "Say 'Cheese'!" by Aatish Taseer Sunday, TIME, 11 January 2004.
  5. ^ Aatish Taseer article Prospect, July 2005.
  6. ^ Book Review The guardian, Saturday, 14 March 2009.
  7. ^ Book Review The Independent, Friday, 17 April 2009.
  8. ^ [1] YouTube, The Author Speaks.
  9. ^ "Travels with the mango king". Prospect Magazine. Retrieved 2011-09-28. 
  10. ^ David Goodhart (2010-11-23). "Prospect’s 10 most influential articles". Prospect Magazine. Retrieved 2011-09-28. 
  11. ^ "Tolerance test for New York". Prospect Magazine. 2010-10-20. Retrieved 2011-09-28. 
  12. ^ Taseer, Aatish (2011-01-08). "The killer of my father, Salman Taseer, was showered with rose petals by fanatics. How could they do this?". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  13. ^ Pakistan’s rogue army runs a shattered state. The Financial Times (login required).
  14. ^ Taseer, Aatish (2011-07-16). "Why My Father Hated India". The Wall Street Journal. 
  15. ^ "Wall Street Journal home page (search required)". The Wall Street Journal. 
  16. ^ Haider, Ejaz (18 July 2011). Aatish’s personal fire. The Express Tribune. Retrieved 18 August 2013
  17. ^ Deccan Chronicle Archived 16 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  18. ^ Haider, Ejaz (16 July 2011). It’s not just Mr Tharoor!. The Express Tribune. Retrieved 18 August 2013
  19. ^ Aatish Taseer, Lady Windsor part ways: Report DNA India - 29 October 2006
  20. ^ http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-day-i-got-my-green-card-1467385905
  21. ^ Costa Book Awards Archived 3 October 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
  22. ^ Mark Brown, arts correspondent (2010-11-16). "Guardian, UK". London: Guardian. Retrieved 2011-09-28. 
  23. ^ "The Independent, UK". London: Independent.co.uk. 2010-11-17. Retrieved 2011-09-28. 
  24. ^ "The Times of India". The Times of India. 2010-11-18. Retrieved 2011-09-28. 
  25. ^ "BBC, Radio 4: 'Front Row'". Bbc.co.uk. 2010-11-16. Retrieved 2011-09-28. 

External links[edit]