by Bhisham Sahni
About the book: Translated by the author 'Tamasdrove the point home that ordinary people want to live in peace' The Guardian Set in a small-town frontier province in 1947, just before Partition, Tamas tells the story of a sweeper named Nathu who is bribed and deceived by a local Muslim politician to kill a pig, ostensibly for a veterinarian. The following morning, the carcass is discovered on the steps of the mosque and the town, already tension-ridden, erupts. Enraged Muslims massacre scores of Hindus and Sikhs, who, in turn, kill every Muslim they can find. Finally, the area's British administrators call out the army to prevent further violence. The killings stop but nothing can erase the awful memories from the minds of the survivors, nor will the various communities ever trust one another again. The events described in Tamas are based on true accounts of the riots of 1947 that Sahni was a witness to in Rawalpindi, and this new and sensitive translation by the author himself resurrects chilling memories of the consequences of communalism which are of immense relevance even today.
by Attia Hosain
About the book: ýMy life changed. It had been restricted by invisible barriers almost as effectively as the physically restricted lives of my aunts in the zenana. A window had opened here, a door there, a curtain had been drawn aside; but outside lay a world narrowed by oneýs field of vision.ý Laila, orphaned daughter of a distinguished Muslim family, is brought up in her grandfatherýs household by orthodox aunts who keep purdah. At fifteen she moves to the home of a ýliberalý but autocratic uncle in Lucknow. Here, during the 1930s, as the struggle for Indian independence sharpens, Laila is surrounded by relatives and university friends caught up in politics. But Laila is unable to commit herself to any cause: her own fight for independence is a struggle against the claustrophobia of traditional life, from which she can only break away when she falls in love with a man whom her family has not chosen for her. With its beautiful evocation of India, its political insight and unsentimental understanding of the human heart, Sunlight on a Broken Column (1961) is a classic of Muslim life.
by Intizar Husain
About the book: Originally written in Urdu, Basti poignantly captures the tragic succumbing of paradise to the corrosive powers of time through the emotional journey of its main protagonist Zakir.
by Zaheda Hina
About the book: In the mid-nineties Birjees Dawar Ali returns to Pakistan to seek out a history left unfinished long ago, a history from which, nursing heartbreak and betrayal, she had once earlier fled, back to her home in partitioned India. Will she find the family that so generously gave her succour, the home that became her own, the people who gave her unquestioning love? Or will all these certainties have fled with the march of history? A deeply moving narrative of love and loss, All Passion Spent focuses on the unresolved question of the 1947 Partition of India and the emergence of India and Pakistan as two separate countries. Zaheda Hina’s richly layered narrative, brought alive in this lyrical and poetic translation by Neelam Husain, touches on the many unanswered questions that surround this painful history—the profound sense of grief and displacement, the lives sundered midstream, the lost friendships and the quest for new roots and lands under different skies.
by Bapsi Sidhwa
About the book: Now Filmed as 1947, a motion picture by Deepa Mehta Few novels have caught the turmoil of the Indian subcontinent during Partition with such immediacy, such wit and tragic power.
by Abdullah Hussein
About the book: Published ahead of Paul Scott’s Raj Quartet and long before Midnight’s Children, Abdullah Hussein’s ambitious saga of social struggle The Weary Generations was a bestseller in Urdu. Published in 1963 and now beyond its 40th edition, it has never been out of print. A vivid depiction of the widespread disillusionment and seismic upheavals of the Partition era that lead to the creation of Pakistan and Bangladesh, there has never been a more opportune time to discover one of the most important writings about the post-colonial trauma in the region. Naim, son of a peasant, marries Azra, the daughter of a rich landowner. Fighting for the British during World War I he loses an arm. Invalided home, he becomes angered at the subjugation of his countrymen under the Raj and aligns himself with the opposition. His ideals are swept away after Independence in 1947 when he realizes that, as Muslims, his family is no longer safe in their Indian home and that they must migrate to the newly created Pakistan. Regarded as one of the half-dozen most influential novels dealing with Partition or post-colonial malaise, this is an immensely powerful novel in its own right and is essential reading for English language readers seeking to comprehend the historical origins of the tensions in the Indian subcontinent.