Last year, the U.S. government released a list of video/film and book titles available at Guantanamo, in response to an FOIA request. The entire list is on GovernmentAttic here. I hadn’t looked at the entire list until now, and I did a double take when I saw Bakra Qiston Pe is available.
Carol Rosenberg’s incredibly invaluable reporting on Guantanamo includes updates on the library: Rosenberg reported that the library added Moana last July. In 2013, she reported on how censors did not approve a book by Noam Chomsky.
Last month, The Independent reported that Pakistani detainee Saifullah Paracha was refused permission to read a book about non-violence authored by family members of victims of the 9/11 attacks.
There’s also a tumblr of images at books at Guantanamo: http://gitmobooks.tumblr.com
For consumers of South Asian popular culture, here are some of the titles available at Guantanamo:
Bakra Qiston Pe – one of the standouts of Pakistan’s comedy theatre productions, the stage play is a classic, rife with sketches of a Genghis Khan-like character, a lot of Michael Jackson music and moonwalking and references to America, and some bawdy and stereotyped humor.
Fifty Fifty – An Urdu satire/sketch show, probably considered among the best shows produced in Pakistan
Taleem-e-Balighan – A classic Urdu play on school education
Bollywood Zero Hour Mashup – If this is the same mashup I’ve heard at workout studios, it’s not very good.
Something called Shahid vs Ranbir, which is what? A Bollywood face-off?
Desi Boyz (A really, really average Bollywood film)
Veer Zaara – A soppy, sappy film about an Indian man who languishes, forgotten, in a Pakistani prison for years, torn from the woman he loves, and is only saved when a lawyer takes up his case
Dhoom and Dhoom 2 and Dhoom 3
(and Chennai Express.)
Dil Se – a Mani Ratnam film about nationalism, insurgency, and love in India. (This piece by Daisy Rockwell on the film is great.)
Tremors – Every Pakistani saw this film in the 1990s.
In the library, along with works by Murakami, Nietzsche, Marquez, Mahfouz, Rowling are works by Saadat Hasan Manto (written as Minto in the list – one wonders if the letters to Uncle Sam are included?), Mustansar Hussain Tarar, and Khadija Mastoor.