This is an endearing biography of Raghupati Sahay or ‘Firaq Gorakhpuri’ one of the great Urdu poets of the last century. Written by a close relative it is an admiring but not uncritical portrait of the poet and largely based on conversations with and personal diaries and letters of the poet’s other close relatives.
David J. Matthews’s translation of the Urdu and Persian verses by Iqbal opens up a world of ideas and events that Iqbal has witnessed/thought about in his works. The text of each poem included in this book is followed by a brief commentary to showcase the historical and the literary context.
Mark Twain is believed to have said, ‘Humanity has unquestionably one really effective weapon—laughter. Power, money, persuasion, supplication, persecution—these can lift at a colossal humbug, push it a little, weaken it a little, century by century, but only humour can blow it to rags and atoms at a blast. Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.’
Julien Columeau has been critically praised for the elasticity he brings to his adopted language through his narrative style and content. Though his stories are first written in French, his natural language, he finds it similar to a Baroque painter’s exercise to transfer them to Urdu and in this translation, he recreates and rewrites his stories.
A book of eight chapters, Rohzin or The Melancholy of the Soul, by Rahman Abbas is a veritable feast for the mind. In Urdu ‘rohzin’ is a word that the author coins to signify the souls of people hurt by witnessing the betrayal of their parents with their partners.
This is a book that raises interesting ques- tions. As for example, why do so many Indians try to enter the eccentric world of the Guinness Book of Records? It is after all an intriguing and bewildering fact that so many Indians try to establish world records in the zaniest of categories every year.
The title of this book reminded me of a conversation I had over kathis in Nizam, New Market, one evening with a non-Bengali friend who loves Calcutta, knows about it as much as anyone else and would not exchange living in it for another. The city had just been renamed and my friend felt betrayed.