Synopses & Reviews
Championed by Salman Rushdie in The New Yorker, Qurratulain Hyder is one of the “must reads” of Indian literature. Fireflies in the Mist is Hyder’s capstone to her astonishing River of Fire, which was hailed by The New York Review of Books as “magisterial with a technical resourcefulness rarely seen before in Urdu fiction.” Fireflies follows the creation of modern day Bangladesh — from Indian province, to Partition, to the emergence of statehood — as told through the impassioned voice of Deepali Sarkar and others around her who live through the turbulence. Hyder perceptively and majestically follows the trajectory of Sarkar’s life — from her secluded upbringing in Dhaka to becoming a socialist rebel and to her ultimate transformation as a diasporic Bengali cosmopolitan — in the way that many of yesterday’s revolutionaries are slowly but surely ensnared within a net of class and luxury dangled in front of them.
"In this blisteringly intelligent if structurally suspect novel, Hyder (1926 2007) explores Dhaka's turbulent 20th century and its violent transformations from a British-ruled Indian city to capital of an independent Bangladesh. The story centers on several students from Bengal's middle and wealthy classes, who in the late 1930s begin flirting with Marxism and dreams of freeing India from British rule. They are male and female, Muslim, Hindu, Christian, and atheist, and their divergent family histories showcase a blended culture, the epitome of which is a crucial romance between Deepali, a daring Hindu girl, and Rehan, a suave, London School of Economics educated Muslim rebel. Though their radical political gestures are less convincing than their mutual attraction, it is their political ideology, much more than religion or class bias, that defines their generation and separates it from the previous one. The novel is rich with historical and socioeconomic analysis, and though Hyder has trouble integrating everything into a cohesive narrative, the resulting story--clumsy, illuminating, challenging, digressive--begs to be savored less for its moving parts than for its sociopolitical commentary and Hyder's love for Bengal. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"A wonderful writer. She pairs enormous erudition with a careful eye to detail. Hers is one of the most important Indian voices of the 20th century." Amitav Ghosh
Qurratulain Hyder has a place alongside her exact contemporaries, Milan Kundera and Gabriel García Márquez, as one of the world’s major living authors.In confidently writing about India’s Buddhist and Hindu past, Hyder, a Muslim by birth, also provides an example of the secular literary culture of the subcontinent that has largely remained untainted by sectarian tensions.
One woman’s journey through the tumultuous and passionate birth of a new nation.
About the Author
Qurratulain Hyder (1926-2007) is widely regarded as the grande dame of Urdu literature. To her fans and admirers she is popularly known as “Ainee Apa.” The Prime Minister of India said at her funeral, “With her unfortunate passing, the country has lost a towering literary figure.”