Intizar Hussain
Native name
انتظار حسین
Born21 December 1925,
Dibai, Bulandshahr district, British India
Died2 February 2016(2016-02-02) (aged 90)
Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan
OccupationWriter, novelist
Alma materMeerut College
Years active1940s – 2016
Notable awardsSitara-i-Imtiaz
Pride of Performance Award by the President of Pakistan in 1986
Adamjee Literary Award
Kamal-i-Fun (Lifetime Achievement) award
Sahitya Akademi Fellowship (National Academy of Letters) of India awarded in 2007
Anjuman Farogh-i-Adab Doha's award[1]

Intizar Hussain or Intezar Hussain (Urdu: انتظار حسین; 21 December 1925 – 2 February 2016) was a Pakistani writer of Urdu novels, short stories, poetry and nonfiction. He is widely recognised as a leading literary figure of Pakistan.[2][3][4][5]

He was among the finalists of the Man Booker Prize in 2013.[6]

Early life

Intizar Hussain was born on 21 December 1925 in Bulandshahr district, Uttar Pradesh, British India.[5] He received a degree in Urdu literature in Meerut.[7] As someone born in the Indian subcontinent who later migrated to Pakistan during 1947 Partition, a perennial theme in Hussain's works deals with the nostalgia linked with his life in pre-partition era.[8] Intizar Husain was often described as possibly the greatest living Urdu writer.[9]

He lived in the old Anarkali Bazaar of Lahore, where he associated and socialized with the likes of Nasir Kazmi, Muhammad Hasan Askari and together they frequented Lahore's teahouses – Pak Tea House, Nagina Bakery, Coffee House, Lords and Arab Hotel.[5]

Lahore's literary scene was divided between two groups, Anjuman-e-Tarraqi-Pasand-Mussanafeen (Progressive Writers Movement) (a leftwing group) and the rightwing Halqa-e Arbab-e Zauq in the 1950s. Intizar Hussain decided not to be closely associated with either group and managed to stay neutral and focus on his writing career.[5]

Literary work

He wrote short stories, novels and poetry in Urdu, and also literary columns for newspapers such as Dawn and Daily Express.[2][3][4] The Seventh Door, Leaves and Basti are among his books that have been translated into English.

Among the five novels he wrote – Chaand Gahan (1952), Din Aur Daastaan (1959), Basti (1980), Tazkira (1987), Aage Samandar Hai (1995) – Basti received global praise.[2]

His other writings include Hindustan Se Aakhri Khat, Aagay Sumandar Hai,[2] Shehr-e-Afsos, Jataka Tales, Janam Kahanian and Wo Jo Kho Gaye. Aagay Sumandar Hai (Sea is facing you in the front) contrasts the spiraling urban violence of contemporary Karachi with a vision of the lost Islamic realm of al-Andalus in modern Spain.[2][10][4][11]

His novel Basti is based on Pakistani history.[3]

Among his books, "Basti" and "Khali Pinjra" have been translated into Persian by Samira Gilani.


On 2 February 2016, he died at National Hospital, Defence Housing Authority at Lahore after contracting pneumonia.[10][7][5] The Indian Express newspaper termed him the "best-known Pakistani writer in the world" after Manto.[12]

His wife, Aliya Begum, had died in 2004 and they had no children.[13]


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.[14]


In 2016, Pakistan Academy of Letters (PAL) announced the ‘Intizar Hussain Award’ which would be given to a literary figure every year.[15]

Awards and international recognition



  1. ^ "I'm a man only of fiction" Intizar Hussain Dawn newspaper, Published 23 April 2009, Retrieved 18 November 2023
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Rumi, Raza (4 February 2016). "In memoriam: Writers like Intizar Husain never die, they live on in their words and ideas". Dawn newspaper. Retrieved 18 November 2023.
  3. ^ a b c "Legendary writer Intizar Hussain passes away". Dawn newspaper. Retrieved 18 November 2023.
  4. ^ a b c "Intizar Hussain, leading Urdu writer, dies aged 92". The Guardian newspaper. Retrieved 18 November 2023.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i Ahmed, Khaled (6 October 2014). "Silent Type". Newsweek Pakistan. Retrieved 18 November 2023.
  6. ^ "The ageless Intizar Hussain". Man Booker Prize. Archived from the original on 8 May 2019. Retrieved 8 May 2019.
  7. ^ a b c d e "Intizar Hussain: Mourning an Urdu literary icon". BBC News. 3 February 2016. Retrieved 18 November 2023.
  8. ^ Memon, Muhammad Umar (29 April 2021). "Partition Literature: A Study of Intizar Husain". Modern Asian Studies. 14 (3): 377–410. doi:10.1017/S0026749X00006879. JSTOR 312138 – via JSTOR.
  9. ^ Raghavan, T. C. A. (20 May 2016). "Narrating the life of muhajirs in today's Pakistan". Herald Magazine (Dawn Media Group) website. Retrieved 2 January 2023.
  10. ^ a b Intizar Hussain, Pakistan's 'greatest fiction writer', dies at 92 The Telegraph newspaper, Published 2 February 2016. Retrieved 18 November 2023
  11. ^ Raj, Ali (2 February 2016). "Intizar Hussain – the seller of dreams". The Daily Tribune. Retrieved 3 February 2016.
  12. ^ Ahmed, Khaled (31 October 2014). "An escape from ideology". The Indian Express. Retrieved 3 February 2016.
  13. ^ Pakistan's 'Greatest Fiction Writer' Dies at 92 Newsweek Pakistan website, Published 3 February 2016, Retrieved 18 November 2023
  14. ^ Imtiaz, Huma (13 February 2011). "FESTIVAL: The best of Urdu & other Pakistani languages". Dawn newspaper. Retrieved 18 November 2023.
  15. ^ "'Intizar Hussain Award' announced". Dawn newspaper. 10 February 2016. Retrieved 18 November 2023.
  16. ^ "List of Awardees". Pakistan Academy of Letters, Government of Pakistan website. Archived from the original on 31 August 2014. Retrieved 19 November 2023.
  17. ^ a b Sahitya Akademi Fellowship awarded to Intizar Hussain in 2007 (scroll down to Premchand Fellowship) Sahitya Akademi (National Academy of Letters), Government of India website, Retrieved 18 November 2023
  18. ^ "Pakistani novelist among finalists for Man Booker International Prize". The Express Tribune. 24 January 2013. Retrieved 1 February 2017.
  19. ^ "Hommage de Fleur Pellerin, ministre de la Culture et de la Communication, à Intizar Hussain" (in French). Ministry of Culture. Retrieved 3 February 2016.
  20. ^ A Chronicle of the Peacocks: Stories of Partition, Exile and Lost Memories. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0195671742. Retrieved 1 February 2017.
  21. ^ The Death of Sheherzad. HarperCollins India. 15 July 2014. ISBN 978-9351362876.
  22. ^ Basti. The New York Review of Books. 2012. ISBN 9781590175828. Retrieved 1 February 2017.
  23. ^ Hussain, Intizar. Chaand Gahan. Sang-e-meel. ISBN 978-9693506174. Retrieved 1 February 2017.
  24. ^ Hussain, Intizar (2003). Ajmal-I Azam. Sang-e-meel. ISBN 978-9693509915. Retrieved 1 February 2017.
  25. ^ Hussain, Intizar. Surakh Tamgha. ISBN 978-9694265308.
  26. ^ Hussain, Intizar (2013). Qissa Kahanian. ISBN 978-9695811788.
  27. ^ Hussain, Intizar (2014). Apni Danist Mein. Sanjh Publications. ISBN 9789693527339. Retrieved 1 February 2017.