24 November, 2020

Going Hop, Skip

Sara Suleri Goodyear's elegy to her father, the political journalist Z.A. Suleri, is not one of the exceptional ones.

Going Hop, Skip
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53
Elegies, like obits, are tricky things. If you’re fascinated with the deceased, you read every word you can find on him. If you’re not, you have little patience with an elegist’s outpourings, unless very well expressed.

Sara Suleri Goodyear’s elegy to her father, the political journalist Z.A. Suleri, is not one of the exceptional ones. Suleri was the founder of the Times of Karachi, editor of Pakistan Times, and briefly director of military intelligence.

Sara’s stories and conversations, some evocative, some pointless, are served up raw. She tries to hold them together with clumsy one-word or one-phrase transitions ("Monkeys." "Implements." "The weather in Lahore."). In fits and starts she feels obliged to write about Pakistani politics, returning to her main subject with a thump each time. Most distracting is her use of the second person, as if addressing her father, out of step with the narrative.

But Sara’s uncrafted prose is possibly deliberate. Early on, she hints at her "inability to martial facts" (a wonderful slip, one of the...

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