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Zulfikar Ghose

Zulfikar Ghose

Zulfikar Ghose was a famous Pakistani-American poet, essayist, and novelist; he has left an impressive mark in the world of literature with his unique creations of magical realism and harsh realism. He was born on the 13th of March in 1935 in Sialkot, Punjab, a part of British India. Ghose literary journey was shaped by his knowledge and experiences of the cultures and conditions of human beings; he died at the age of eighty-seven (87) on the 30th of June 2022, in Austin, Texas, leaving behind his legacy of literary works that still attracts the mind of the readers of this generation all around the world.

Early Life and Cultural Support

Zulfikar Ghose was born into a Muslim family, and his father, Khwaja Mohammed Ghose, was a businessman. In 1942, during the Second World War (WW2) disturbance, the Ghose family relocated to Bombay (now Mumbai); however, the partition of British India into Pakistan and India in 1947 was a major change in the life of Goshe. His family then decided to choose to migrate to England after the wake of the partition.

In England, Ghose's literary journey started to take shape; he got his education at Keele University and graduated in 1959. He later started to teach at Ealing Mead School in London, where he became a close friend of Anthony Smith and the British experimental writer B. S. Johnson. Together, they collaborated on several projects, including as joint editors of an annual anthology of student poets called "Universities' Poetry." During this time, Ghose also had the opportunity to meet notable literary figures like Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath and American author Janet Burroway, with whom he occasionally collaborated.

Literary Career and Early Works

The early life of Ghose's literary inspiration included two collections of poetry, "The Loss of India," which was issued in 1964, and "Jets From Orange," which was issued in 1967; these collections showed his ability to write lyrical and his ability to explore themes of identity and belonging. In 1965, he published his autobiography, "Confessions of a Native Alien," reflecting on his experiences as an immigrant navigating the complexities of identity and culture.

His first two novels, "The Contradictions," released in 1966, and "The Murder of Aziz Khan," released in 1969, marked his impression into fiction novels. "The Contradictions" shows the differences between Western and Eastern worldviews, reflecting his experiences as an important connection between these two areas. "The Murder of Aziz Khan" showed the struggle of a small farmer trying to protect his ancestral land from shameless developers, shedding light on land rights and modernization issues.

Teaching and Writing

In 1964, Ghose married Helena de la Fontaine, an artist from Brazil, a country that would later serve as the setting for many of his novels. He made an important decision in 1969 when he relocated to the United States to teach at the University of Texas in Austin. Over the years, he taught English literature and creative writing at the university, by the time he earned the title of professor after his retirement in 2007. Zulfikar Ghose became a U.S. citizen in 2004, which solidified his connection to the country where he spent much of his adult life.

International Recognition

Zulfikar Ghose gained international recognition in the 1970s after he released his famous trilogy, "The Incredible Brazilian"; the first one is "The Native," which was released in 1972; the second one is "The Beautiful Empire," which was released in 1975, and the third one is "A Different World," which was released in 1978, showed an adventurous journey through Brazilian history, this usually filled with sexual exploration and violations. An American writer, Thomas Berger, praised this work (The Incredible Brazilian) by saying it is "an adventurous epic poem of Brazilian history." In contrast, famous travel writer and novelist Paul Theroux praised it as "a considerable work of imagination."

Diverse Exploration

Throughout his career, Zulfikar Ghose continued to explore the world to find diverse genres and themes for his writings. These works showed his versatility as a writer, and he tried to show a wide range of topics, from history to psychology and the human condition to the exploration of the self.

Some of his work (novels) is described below:

  • Crump's Terms, which was released in 1975.
  • Hulme's Investigations into the Bogart Script, which was released in 1981.
  • A New History of Torments, which was released in 1982.
  • Don Bueno, which was released in 1983.
  • Figures of Enchantment, which was released in 1986.
  • The Triple Mirror of the Self, which was released in 1992.
  • Shakespeare's Mortal Knowledge: A Reading of the Tragedies was released in 1993.


The poetic talent of Zulfikar Goshe is shone through his books of poetry, which include "The Violent West," which was released in 1972, "A Memory of Asia," which was released in 1984, and "Selected Poems." He usually writes poems that revolve around the themes of travel and memory, exploring the perspective of a self-aware alien and showcasing the complexity of the world; some of his famous poems are "The Loss of India," which was released in 1964, "Selected Poems," which was released in 1991, and "50 poems," which was released in 2010; he also wrote five books of "Literary Criticism," that shows that how much deep knowledge of literature, Zulfikar Ghose has.

A Writer's Writer

The approach of Zulfikar Ghose was unique, and he was usually considered a "writer's writer" who gave preference to style and beauty in his work and did not consider commercial; his works defied easy categorization, and he remained committed to the artistic value of literature throughout his career.


The impact of the work of Zulfikar Ghose extended far beyond his lifetime; his correspondence with Thomas Berger, which lasted for four decades (fourth years), is housed for research at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Taxes at Austin. In 1962, the Times Literary Supplement featured Ghose's poems, promoting him as the most prominent poet from the era of the British Colonies; the next year, in 1963, he received a special award from the E. C. Gregory Trust, which was judged by luminaries like Henry Moore, T. S. Eliot, Bonamy Dobree, and Herbert Read.

In 1989, The Review of Contemporary Fiction published a special edition dedicated to Milan Kundera and Zulfikar Ghose; the editors of the publication acknowledged the position of Ghose as a prominent English language writer in England and America, stating that he had surpassed the work of several of the best writers in these countries; they went on to describe Ghose as a unique personality in contemporary literature whose evolution across different languages and national boundaries was comparable to that of Nabokov, Beckett, and Conrad. Zulfikar Ghose died at eighty-seven (87) on the 30th of June 2022 in Austin, Texas, which marked the end of his illustrious literary career.


Zulfikar Ghose died in 2022, but his writings and poems continue to inspire readers and scholars, inviting them to explore the complexity of culture, identity, and human experience; his work of the beauty of language and power of imagination will forever be celebrated in the world of literacy, showing that he was a good storyteller and a good wordsmith.

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