Intizar Hussain, widely recognised as one of the greatest Urdu writers in history was born in Dibai, Bulandshahr, India in December 1923. His exact date of birth is not known, sources indicate that he was born on 21 December of
Intizar Hussain, widely recognised as one of the greatest Urdu writers in history was born in Dibai, Bulandshahr, India in December 1923. His exact date of birth is not known, sources indicate that he was born on 21 December of 1922, 1923 or 1925. After passing Intermediate in 1942, he gained a bachelor's degree and master's degree at Meerut College in 1944 and 1946 respectively. He migrated to Pakistan in 1947 and lived in Lahore.
Intizar Hussain worked for the Urdu daily, Imroze and also for the Urdu daily Mashriq for many years. He was a regular literary columnist for Pakistan’s leading English-language daily Dawn, in later years became known as a voice of moderation and advocate of what he saw as the subcontinent’s ancient traditions of pluralism and tolerance. Some of his Urdu columns are archived at Urdu-Columns.com.
Intizar Husain has written five novels and published seven collections of short stories. Only one of his novels is translated into English and there are five volumes of his short stories published in English translations. The Seventh Door and Leaves are among his books translated into English.
His Naya Gar (The New House) paints a picture of Pakistan during the ten-year dictatorship of General Zia-ul-Haq. Agay Sumandar Hai (Beyond is the Sea) contrasts the spiralling urban violence of contemporary Karachi with a vision of the lost Islamic realm of al-Andalus, in modern Spain. His other writings include Hindustan Se Aakhri Khat, Agay Samander hai, Shehr-e-Afsos, Jataka Tales, Janam Kahanian and Wo Jo Kho Gaye.
He has received many awards in Pakistan, India and the Middle East. In 2007, Intizar Hussain received the civil award Sitara-i-Imtiaz. He was shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize in 2013 after Frances Pritchett translated his Basti into English. He received a lifetime achievement award at the Lahore Literary Festival. Newsweek Pakistan called him Pakistan’s most accomplished living author in 2014. In September of the same year, Hussain was made an Officer of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government.
Intizar Hussain believed that two forces had risen in contemporary Pakistan, women and the mullahs. He also acknowledged his study and the influence of Buddhist texts and the Mahabharata.
On 2 February 2016, he died aged 92 following a period of illness, at National Hospital, DHA at Lahore on 2:45 pm, after contracting pneumonia.
The Indian Express termed him the best-known Pakistani writer in the world after Minto. Fellow Urdu writer Munnu Bhai said, Intizar Hussain was a man of letters. His death has left a huge gap in the literary circle of the subcontinent that would be felt of the centuries to come.
Intizar Hussain’s wife, Aliya Begum, died in 2004. The couple had no children.