To Urdu fiction what One Hundred Years of Solitude is to Hispanic literature.

The London Times Literary Supplement
Courtesy Jamia's Premchand Archives & Literary Centre, JMI-New Delhi

Qurratulain Hyder

Qurratulain Hyder (1928–2007) was one of the leading writers of Urdu fiction in India. A prose stylist of rare accomplishment, she wrote in both Urdu and English, and her books have been translated into all Indian languages. She was awarded the Bharatiya Gnapinth, India’s highest literary award, in 1989.

cover image of the book River of Fire

River of Fire

The most important novel of twentieth-century Urdu fiction, Qurratulain Hyder’s River of Fire encompasses the fates of four recurring characters over two and a half millennia. These characters become crisscrossed and strangely inseparable over different eras, forming and reforming their relationships in romance and war, in possession and dispossession. River of Fire interweaves parables, legends, dreams, diaries, and letters, forming a rich tapestry of history and human emotions and redefining Indian identity. But above all, it’s a unique pleasure to read Hyder’s singular prose style: “Lyrical and witty, occasionally idiosyncratic, it is always alluring and allusive: Flora Annie Steel and E. M. Forster encounter classical Urdu poets; Eliot and Virginia Woolf meet Faiz Ahmed Faiz” (The Times Literary Supplement).

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cover image of the book Fireflies in the Mist

Fireflies in the Mist

Championed by Salman Rushdie in The New Yorker, Qurratulain Hyder is one of the “must reads” of Indian literature. Fireflies in the Mist is Hyder’s capstone to her astonishing River of Fire, which was hailed by The New York Review of Books as “magisterial with a technical resourcefulness rarely seen before in Urdu fiction.” Fireflies follows the creation of modern day Bangladesh – from Indian province, to Partition, to the emergence of statehood – as told through the impassioned voice of Deepali Sarkar and the others around her who live through the turbulence. Hyder perceptively and majestically follows the trajectory of Sarkar’s life – from her secluded upbringing in Dhaka to becoming a socialist rebel and to her ultimate transformation as a diasporic Bengali cosmopolitan – in the way that many of yesterday’s revolutionaries are slowly but surely ensnared within a net of class and luxury dangled in front of them.

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To Urdu fiction what One Hundred Years of Solitude is to Hispanic literature.

The London Times Literary Supplement

. . . a challenging, rewarding author who could make the political realities of her region live on the page.

The National

Qurratulain Hyder is a wonderful writer. She pairs enormous erudition with a careful eye to detail. Hers is one of the most important Indian voices of the twentieth century.

Amitav Ghosh

Qurratulain Hyder has a place alongside her exact contemporaries, Milan Kundera and Gabriel Garcia Márquez, as one of the world’s major living authors.

Times Literary Supplement
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