Rendezvous with MJ Akbar

MJ Akbar, a leading Indian journalist and author of several bestsellers is in Lahore for the book launching ceremony of his latest (seventh) book, Blood Brothers: A Family Saga. The book launch ceremony will take place today (May 11, 2006) at Al-Hamra Arts Council, Lahore.

The book has had tremendous success in India and was sold out even before its launch there. The second edition was at the printers even as the book was being released.

MJ is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Asian Age, India’s first global and a multi-edition daily newspaper, and is also the Editor-in-Chief of the Deccan Chronicle. The secret of his success as a journalist is fearlessness and honesty. “The simplest way to deal with anything is to not want anything in return. I never try to embellish the truth, never put a spin on it. I write what I perceive to be right.”

Talking about his book to The Post, MJ said that this is a very special book for him, though all his previous works are near and dear to his heart. “Every book is like maternity and to a mother, every child is beautiful.” He said he gets his inspiration from experience. “No text is possible without context.” When asked how he makes time for writing books during his busy schedule, he replied that for him writing is an addiction. His books would be a legacy that he wants to leave behind so that others can learn. “It is very cruel to ask a writer when he will write the next book,” he quipped when queried about his future work. “You cannot ask a mother when she would give birth to her next child, only when the seed is impregnated inside her will she give birth — just like the seed of a new idea would impregnate my mind and the next book will follow.” MJ’s strength as a writer comes from two things. One is his strength of expression and the other is the strength of his craft. To put a story in a way that puts it in the exact light of what one wants to say is how a writer masters the art of storytelling. He believes that simplicity is the key to success for any writer. “Otherwise there a hundred different ways of saying things, you can make it dense and opaque or clear yet keeping it simple — depends on the way you tell the story.”

On the condition of Muslims around the world, he said, “Muslims are facing injustice in many cases, but at the same time they themselves are the perpetrators of many injustices. Some of the greatest injustices against Muslims are done by other Muslims.” People’s power is the solution to the Kashmir problem in his opinion. “In the end, the solution will not be found by the governments, but by the people.”

“Never sneer at time, for it passes fast,” is the advice he gives to the young lot. MJ Akbar exudes confidence and panache, yet his sense of humour is highly visible during the whole conversation.


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