Masooma, published in 1962, may well be regarded as a work that celebrates all of Ismat Chughat’s talents as a writer. Perhaps her darkest novel, narrative of lost hope and endless cycles of corruption and injustice it traces the journey of Masooma,a yound in a game of exploitation and treachery and become Nilofar,a commodity that can be easily bought and sold. Once again, in telling Masooma;s story, Chughtai cuts open the underbelly of India’s political landscape and the underpinnings of the Bomaby film world to reveal their shadowy and unsavory side.
Inimitable style…racy prose and a strong narrative with a powerful sense of drama.
She grabs your attention with her poker-sharp words –which sometimes an entire world of experience is buried in a single sentence. Where did she get that amazing observation, that acerbic wit, that dry sense of humor? And can’t we have more writers like her?
Her writing is ironic, caustic, frank, and bold and, yes, irreverent…she is merciless in her depiction of corruption, deceit, injustice and hypocrisy. Yet her empathy for her characters is always evident, as is her pain for their suffering.
Ismat Chughtai was born in 1915 in Badayun and is counted among the earliest and foremost women Urdu writers. She focused on women’s issues with a directness and intensity unparalleted in Urdu literature among writers of her generation. She is the author of several collections of short stories, three novellas, a novel, Terhi Lakir (The Crooked Line), a collection of reminiscences and essays, My Friend, My Enemy, and a memoir, Kaghazi Hari Perhan (The Paper-thin Garment). With her husband, Shahid Latif, a film director, she produced and co-directed six films and produced a further six, independently, after his death.
Tahira Naqvi, a translator of Urdu fiction and prose, taught English for twenty years, has taught Urdu at Columbia, and now heads the Urdu programme at New York University. She has translated Ismat Chaughtai’s short stories, her novel and her essays. She has also translated the works of Khadija Mastur, Sadat Hasan Manto and Munshi Premchand.
Naqvi also writes fiction in English. She has published two collection of short fiction, Attar of Roses and Other Stories of Pakistan and Dying in a Strange Country. Her short stories have been widely anthologized.
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