28 September, 2020

Richly Textured

A sensitive tale of the coming of age of two nations

Richly Textured
FIRST published in Urdu in '63 as Udas Naslein, this novel by a Pakistani writer now settled in Britain should be read by every Indian. Refreshingly, this is no cunningly crafted, linguistically innovative novel about childhood and coming of age written by a breezy sophisticate. It is a grave reflection on the coming of age of two nations, India and Pakistan, and the violent ripping apart of a syncretic culture. Naturally, therefore, this is not the kind of novel to breeze through in a day or two: it needs to be savoured and thought about.

The novel traces the life of its hero Naim through about five decades of Indian history, weaving it into the life of its villages and towns in seamless segments. Naim, the son of a farmer, is adopted by his more sophisticated uncle, with whom he spends a secure childhood in Calcutta. After passing his Senior Cambridge exam Naim comes to Delhi, where his encounter with the family of Nawab Roshan Agha, the squire of his village and more importantly, with the Nawab's sophisticated daughter Azra, becomes an important turning point in...



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