Satire and Parody in Contemporary Literature of Afghanistan

Satire and parody, as means to amuse the reader, stealthily ridicule the self-indulgent ruler and subtly remind him of his flaws and foibles have long had a prominent niche in classical and modern Persian literature. Anvari Abivardi, Suzani Samarqandi, and particularly Obeid Zakan are the prime examples of Iran's classical satirical poets. In modern times, the likes of Mirzadeh Eshqi, Iraj Mirza, Dehkhoda and Mirza Jahangir khan set their own unique style on the tradition.

In Afghanistan, Mahmud Tarzi was perhaps the first contemporary writer and journalist who produced and introduced satirical works. Later on, Haj Ismail Harati and Shayaq Jamal, defying the censors, further popularized satirical poetry. In more recent periods, a number of poets, including Talib Qandihari, Nasir Nasib, and Shirali Qanun, valiantly tried to echo the hardships of Afghanis' daily life and the anomalies of their social interactions in their satiric works. However, due to suffocating and ever present censorship, their satiric works only aimed at no more than price gouging, superstition, and low level bureaucratic corruption. In the same period, satiric sketches and cartoons added a new dimension to the Afghan satirical repertoire. With less restrictive laws, cartoonists such as Hamid Navid, Tariq Marzban, and particularly Homayoun Hozhab Shinwari, succeeded in producing more biting satirical works.

Tarjoman was the first weekly journal in the pre Soviet invasion of Afghanistan that was devoted exclusively to satire and parody and soon after its publication attracted most of Afghanistan's satirical writers. With the fall of Taliban regime and its suppression censorship, there has been a revival of satiric journals and publications in Afghanistan, of which the most prominent are Zanbil-I Gham and Chai-I Dagh

Jalal Noorani
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