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Author: Vibhuti Narain Rai
Publisher: Roli Books
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8174360360
This novel is a sensitive and touching study of a people in a crumbling inner city locality when curfew is suddenly clamped on them.
With no confidence-building mechanism in place, the administrative machinery can hardly cope with the communal frenzy between the Hindu and Muslim populations. The authorities of law and order are wholly discriminatory in the exercise of their powers, fanning the fears and insecurities of the poor people. The novel focus on a Muslim household of beedi-workers who live on the edge of subsistence.
Rai's narrative is not about the 'riot' itself, or rather it is not about the killing and pillaging and raping, the events that were very much the focus of the narratives of the stories that were written about the riots of 1946 and 1947. It is not a story of people gone barbaric in the heat of a moment of passion or revenge. It is about cold, calculated greed and blind senseless hatred.
C M Naim teaches Urdu Language and Literature and Cultural History of South Asian Muslims at the University of Chicago. He is the founder and former editor of Journal of South Asian Literature and The Annual of Urdu Studies. His translations of Harishankar Parsai, Qurratulain Hyder and others have been published in India, Pakistan and USA.