The Death of Sheherzad
Translated by Rakshanda Jalil
5 x 8 inches, 232 pp. December 2016
ISBN : 9780857423931
Rs 0.00 (HB)
A man scours the town he left 50 years ago for some modest evidence of past joys. Javed, who has returned to Lahore from East Pakistan, won’t speak of what he witnessed in his time away. In her dreams, an old woman boards a train full of dead ancestors. A sage who cannot control his anger must seek out a butcher for redemption. Mahaban, once the home of monkeys, is now a city filled with human beings. Sheherzad, who once told Emperor Shaharyar one thousand and one stories, is now an old woman who has forgotten her fantastical yarns.
The 15 stories in The Death of Sheherzad ably represent Intizar Husain’s oeuvre that defying narrative tradition and exploring the past, specifically the Partition of India, as a means of unraveling the present. He imaginatively revisits a syncretic, tolerant, pluralistic past to analyse why the tide turned so irreversibly. Questioning everything—faith, violence, society—Husain probes the horrors of Partition in a manner as oblique as it is trenchant. Imbued with dark wit and literary brilliance, these stories at once shock, agitate and entertain.
Intizar Husain was the writer of five novels and seven collections of short stories. Basti, his 1979 novel, which traces the psychic history of Pakistan through the life of one man has been republished as a New York Review of Books Classic. He was nominated for the Man Booker International Prize, 2013.
Rakhshanda Jalil is a writer, translator and editor. Her debut anthology of short stories Release and Other Stories was published 2011.