The Strange Literary Career of Mian Mohsin Zia

Mian Mohsin Zia is brilliant, humble, dedicated, creative and obsessed with writing a great book. There is no other author in my experience who presents literature as a multi-media experience that is both intensely personal and emotionally universal.  He writes his books in the first person, with shifting tenses and displaced modifiers. Every paragraph cries out for revision, clarification — yet the man teaches English. "I am not a native speaker," admits Zia, "and the native speaker has an advantage in any language."  Zia publishes his books is more than one language, and they come with beautiful photographic interpretations, well-intentioned "poetry" and enough bonus material to qualify his books as the print equivalent of a Criterion DVD.  

He is young. He is a writer. There is no such thing as a child prodigy author. Painting, music, and other audio/visual arts are often manifested in dazzling displays of genius  – the baby savant with a natural ear, the toddler who can play any keyboard instrument, but manifesting literary maturity requires life experiences, talent, and..the craft itself.

Speaking to Mian is to encounter a hailstorm of humility, pelting you constantly with denials of egotistical intent. "Name one other author anywhere in the world of your experience," he challenges, "who gives you a book that not only offers a compelling story, an important message, an insight into matters spiritual, but also photography from a team comprised of people from Pakistan to Mexico, custom poetry, and this book being available in more than one language? Tell me. There is no other, yet I am nothing." All credit, he insists, belongs to God alone, and his eternal inspiration, the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). 

Mian is a man of deep faith, and lives his religion of peace in a most exemplary fashion. Dedicated to the universality of the human condition, he often places his stories in undisclosed locales — he doesn't name the city or country as to allow the reader to put it in their country, their culture. The concept is bit impractical, yet it is is something Kafka would do without a second thought..  

It is perhaps proof of his talent that the mind bending sentence structure that would get him slapped silly in any Western creative writing class does not interfere with readers' falling in love with his books — but not in love enough to make writing financially viable for Mian Zia.  

Here is my take on this budding literary talent — just as his books have been translated int Russian, they should also be translated into English. Yes, he writes them in English, but not the English of American literature, be it classical or pulp fiction.   The books are written in Pakistani English, with the sentence structure familiar to Americans who have met Hindustanis from India, or Muslims from Pakistan. 'They talk so cute," a woman recently said, "and there is something endearing about the accent and the more elaborate tense renderings.  A phrase such as "He will need it later," is "when the current time is moved forward, he is needing it.'"  That is not incorrect. It's simply a different language that resembles the one you know.

The big problem with being Mian  Zia is the lack of income from book sales. He self-publishes and relies upon the internet and word of mouth to make his name and his money.  As with many young people — and early 20's is still young — he invests his output with almost magical power, assuming that what flies from his fingertips is somehow invested with perfection due to the "automatic writing" sensation.  Master the craft. It takes a lifetime.  Perhaps Mian is the Ed Wood of serious contemporary literature — all heart, passion, dedication, and drive — impatiently in love with a craft that has captured him to the point of near imprisonment.  Remember the name Mian Moshen Zia — his day will come. Or, shall i say, "the day of which he was waiting would be  past the time of it's anticipated arrival, yet it was there."  Visit his site, get his books. 


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