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Anthology of Urdu
Edited by Ralph Russell
Translated by Ralph Russell
Imprint: Carcanet Fiction
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Paperback (312 pages)
'...How long is it since you started writing?'
'And how many stories have you written?'
'Sixty - sixty-two. Sixty-two.'
'Then what's wrong? Can't you write one about me, Chote Sahib? Look how long I've waited for you to write about me. I have been a good servant to you all these years - your old sweeper Kalu Bhangi. Why can't you write about me?'
from Krishan Chander's 'Kalu Bhangi'
Urdu, a major language of the South Asian subcontinent, was born, Ralph Russell says, 'out of the need of Muslim invaders of India from the tenth century onwards to create a literature in which they could communicate with their Indian subjects.' It was slow to gather literary momentum, but it is now one of the great literatures of the area. This anthology was originally entitled Hidden in the Lute (1995) and is published here in paperback for the first time. Rather than pursue a chronology, Ralph Russell divides the rich tradition into generic categories: popular literature, love poetry, the novel, the story, and less familiar Urdu modes. We begin in the twentieth century, with sketches and tales, and the book ends with Rusva's novel Umrao Jan Ada. Ralph Russell's translations are precise and clear, true to the unique nature of the Urdu originals. Work by well-known and by less familiar authors is included, among them Ghalib, Saadat Hasan Manto, Ismat Chugtai, Prem Chand and Krishan Chander. Notes on writers and further reading are included, as well as extract from the letters of Ghalib.
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