Urdu's finest

Qurratulain Hyder, Winner of the Jnanpith Award 1989 was one of the finest writers in Urdu. Women Unlimited have a new collection, Street Singers of Lucknow and Other Stories.

"This fascinating collection of short stories highlights the innovative genius of this iconoclastic writer as she moves from realism to the fabular, and from history to time-travel. In the title story woven with social satire and melodrama, an itinerant entertainer becomes a well-known singer, eventually coming back to her Lucknow roots in a subdued, melancholy ending. A cast of characters entertain themselves with gossip and adultery in the lush tranquility of the tea gardens of East Bengal. At the centre is a mercurial, identity-changing adventuress, one who often appears in her fiction. Another is the memorable Eurasian, Catherine Bolton, who escapes her roots to achieve social success. This versatile writer takes imaginative flight in unusual stories spanning decades, or even centuries. The manic comedy of Saint Flora is accompanied by a guided tour of history with elements of the fantastic that is distinctly her own. An American-educated Indian scientist finds herself communicating with godlings and rabbis in ancient Egypt.

The author returns to the stark realism of fading notions of honour, and a poignant story of a cousin who isn’t quite One of Us written in the pseudo-memoir mode perfected in earlier collections in which convictions of feudal Muslim respectability are turned on their head. Her arsenal of techniques—pastiche, satire, memoir, collage—takes us to the place most important to her, the human heart in all its varied seasons."

In our Indian Writing in English section, 244 pages. Paperback. Rs. 350 • ISBN: 81-88965-53-7