ISLAMABAD: To commemorate the completion of 75 years of diplomatic ties between Islamabad and Riyadh, the Pakistan Academy of Letters (PAL) has published a book of Urdu translations of Saudi short stories to “promote literary and cultural ties” between the two countries, the chairman of the body said on Monday.
Islamabad and Riyadh have close diplomatic, military, and economic ties. More than 2.5 million Pakistanis live and work in Saudi Arabia, which is one of the largest sources of remittances to the South Asian nation.
“The book published under the title ‘Selected Saudi Arabian Short Stories’ will help strengthen literary linkages between the two countries and acquaint Pakistani readers with Saudi culture, literature, and fiction,” PAL chairman Dr. Muhammad Yousuf Khushk told Arab News.
He said it was “a matter of great pride” for the academy to put out the work on the occasion of 75 years of the establishment of bilateral relations.
“It is the first time that Saudi literature is translated into Urdu for the Pakistani public," Khushk said. "This book showcases the work of 17 key Saudi writers, most of whom belong to the 20th century and enjoy great respect among Saudi fiction.”
The anthology, which includes an introduction as well as a detailed analysis of each story, will “soon be available for the public in all major libraries across Pakistan,” he added, saying PAL had borne all costs of publishing the book.
Dr. Lubna Farah, who translated the short stories, said the aim of the book was to improve cultural knowledge among Pakistanis about the daily lives of Saudis.
“Unfortunately, no one in Pakistan has access to Saudi literature due to language and other barriers,” she told Arab News.
“We decided to present it [book] as a gift of 75 years of Pakistan-Saudi Arabia relations and I worked for six months on the project to connect with Saudi writers to get permission to translate their stories as it was a matter of copyrights,” she added.
The effort to connect with Saudi writers succeeded with the help of Dr. Khalid Al-Youssef, an official at the Saudi northern literary club, Farah said.
“The 17 selected stories are related to Saudi culture and depict their daily life," she added, "They are written by both male and female writers.”
Farah said the book was the first of its kind.
“It has never been done before,” she said.
“Neither Pakistani literature was translated in Arabic for Saudi people, nor their [literary] writings were translated in Urdu for the Pakistani public.”