Thursday, September 1, 2011

Kashmir’s literary harvest

This year has seen a blossoming of English-language narratives on Kashmir, many from a generation that has never known peace

Last August, as droves of rock-hurling boys and young men rallied on the streets of Srinagar, essayist Pankaj Mishra wrote in The Guardian that “apart from the youth on the streets, there are also those with their noses in books...”, a generation, he wrote, that will soon “make its way into the world with its private traumas. Life under political oppression has begun to yield, in the slow bitter way it does, a rich intellectual and artistic harvest.”

Mishra’s words appear to have been borne out by the minor boom in English-language writing by and about Kashmiris. This includes Sanjay Kak’s anthology, Until my Freedom Has Come, in which the film-maker has compiled writing, mostly from the Internet, produced by Kashmiris last summer. India International Centre chief editor Ira Pande’s A Tangled Web: Jammu & Kashmir is an anthology that seeks to provide fresh ways of looking not just at Kashmir, but Jammu also.

The new crop of Kashmir books is a diverse lot. Published last year was Luv Puri’s scholarly Across the LoC, and soon to follow are My Kashmir, by former civil servant Wajahat Habibullah, and a book of Amit Mehra’s photographs. Also forthcoming are reporter Rahul Pandita’s memoir of growing up as a Hindu in Kashmir, and Sonia Jabbar’s book of reportage from the state.

Likewise, works in translation are beginning to trickle out. Prisoner No. 100, Anjum Zamarud Habib’s jail memoir, was published in translation from Urdu this year. First-time translator Sahba Husain said she has had other offers to translate Urdu works, but passed in favour of writing a non-fiction book based on her activism in Kashmir.

Full report here Mint

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