At the beginning of the 20th century, the novel course experienced new writing techniques in the wake of modern movements and trends in psychology, science and art. As literature goes hand in hand with the developments of the world, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf and DH Lawrence are the most renowned novelists who have traversed the inside of man, conjuring up the staged event in the mind. of man instead of describing the outward course of his action. After World War I, when Sigmund Freud’s theories were applied to art, a new technique, “stream of consciousness”, was introduced into novels and short stories. When Marcel Provost, Albert Comus and Aleksander Solzhenitsyn wrote ‘Remembrance of Things Past’, ‘The Stranger’, ‘The First Circle’ respectively, it was truly a milestone in terms of novel form. The use of a variant of the interior monologue in the story made the novel modern. How was written took precedence over what was written. The unique plot, deep portrayal of characters, and mastery of language are considered the strength of modern fiction.
In the history of Urdu novel, Qurat-ul-Ain Haider holds a prominent place due to its writing style and applied technique in novels like ‘Aag ka Darya’. Moreover, Abdullah Hussain and Intizar Hussain fall under the same category due to their craftsmanship and artistry. In present times, Mustansar Hussain Tarar and Mirza Athar Baig, Hassan Manzoor and many more novelties come under their treatment.
Muhammad Asim Butt introduced himself as a translator and his first translation job was of ‘Kafka Tales’. During this time he came up with his own first short story collection, ‘Ishtehar Admi’ (Advertiser) published in 1998 added a bit to his fictional stature. In 2001, Asim Butt’s first novel “Daira” (circle) managed to bring him fame in literary circles. Subsequently, her two novels “Nautaman”, “Bhaid” and a collection of short stories “Dastak” have been published so far. In the field of translation, his contribution is commendable. Her novel ‘Daira’ has two main parts, one depicting the Lahori culture and the other the dilemma of isolation. Butt connects minor coincidences with major implications and thus crafts a touching story. The plot isn’t very complicated but the way it’s weaved together is commendable. The details of the novel have been presented in an abstruse stream of consciousness sprinkled with Western prose that makes the text spellbinding.
By applying the interior monologue, the novelist keeps the reader’s interest intact. The myriad streams of impressions, half-thoughts, incidental worries, etc., are evident from many volumes of the novelist’s studies, especially in literary techniques. Deliberate efforts appeared in sentence structure, that is, the use of idioms, phrases, and proverbs. The plot is composed and composite and the reader appreciates the rhetoric which has been used in a sophisticated way. The use of alliteration, onomatopoeia and imagery appeals to the readers’ senses. Punjabi sentences are the example of the expressive use of language.
Asim, having his finger on the pulse of society, reveals the innermost secrets of ordinary people. He draws a fantastic sketch of performers. The events depicted in the story are not heroic, the story settings are the street and the taverns, the dialogues are simple and it is nevertheless a magnum opus. The events flow fluently but at certain stages the detailed introduction of the characters seems unnecessary.
Characterization is an essential component of writing fiction. Muhammad Asim Butt benefited greatly from this device. He develops the characters in a very artistic way. The theme of the story lies in these characters, actions and believers. Asim paints a very lively and thriving picture of society.
Zaman Khan, Ustad Imtiaz Ali Khan, Naveed, Mithu Kabaria, Saen Jeero, his wife, Masood, ‘Chabbay wala chacha’, Naureen, etc. contain the versatility of life. The novelist himself being a narrator, makes the story interesting. It’s such a meticulously crafted tale in general, but at a few moments it seems at its peak. Ustad Imtiaz Khan’s music class is a fine example in this regard. He was wonderful in creating scenes.
The reader and the critic cannot come to any conclusion without understanding Mr. Rashid, (hero of the novel). His dreams come true, but he is still in the state of alienation. Psychoanalysis is the only key to unfolding the fact. Rashid intended to recall the past; even nostalgia for difficult days prevents him from living in a changed world. The story ends with the problems of loneliness and meaninglessness in life. This sorry attitude is tragic which is not specific to the hero of the story but a common phenomenon. Surreal imagery and existentialist themes make the novel a masterpiece. However, this novel is an open parable, more than one interpretation is the sign of the mastery of the novelist. The magical realist style has established it as an important representative novel in the Urdu world.
—Dr. Fareed Hussainee