Book: The Last Metaphor
Author: Usman Ali
Publisher: New Line
List Price: Rs. 200
About Author: Usman Ali is the author of The Guilt, a three-act play in memory of Mastana, a Pakistani stage actor. The play was published by Sawan, an imprint of Readings, Lahore. He also wrote a script for an imagined interview with Robert Frost in 2001 and has to his credit an English translation of a book on Gulzar, The Speaking Silence. He lives in Mandi Bahauddin, Punjab.
Review: Ali’s play opens another window for me
Usman Ali’s work straddles East and West (to use those two crude nouns). This is potentially useful in a world where cultures that were divided by space and time now live cheek by jowl, drawn together by the market and modern technology. This duality in Ali’s plays is potentially interesting and useful. Ali has a natural ability to describe human relations, at least the men in the two plays I’ve read. In some ways they are distant to my life but I easily recognize their humanity and their feelings. I think Ali lives in a society where experience is immediate and direct, not mediated through technology and gadgets. Ali has a working dramatic sense – the central relationship in The Last Metaphor is the classical one that appears often in Western theater and literature – Voltaire, Beckett, Candide, Bertie Wooster, Laurie and Hardy and so on. I’m not saying Ali makes the same use of the relationship, but he gives it a recognizable and usable foundation. What is important about Ali’s work is the raw experience he describes. The raw experiences, the use of the dead body, are the sort of things that stay in my mind. They seem to be part of Ali’s strength. The main thing is Ali’s natural talent which is able to convey direct experiences in a dramatic form.