Attia Hosain

Born in Lucknow, India in 1913.

(At the moment, I give the titles, year of publication, publisher, ISBN where I have it, and the blurb that appears on that edition.


* Sunlight on a Broken Column (1961, Chatto & Windus; 1988, Virago Press, with a new introduction by Anita Desai [ISBN: 0 86068 643 4])
"`My life changed. It had been restricted by invisible barriers almost as effectively as the physically restricted lives of my aunts in the zenana. A window had opened here, a door there, a curtain had been drawn aside; but outside lay a world narrowed by one's field of vision.'

"Laila, orphaned daughter of a distinguished Muslim family, is brought up in her grandfather's household by orthodox aunts who keep purdah. At fifteen she moves to the home of a `liberal' but autocratic uncle in Lucknow. Here, during the 1930s, as the struggle for Indian independence sharpens, Laila is surrounded by relatives and university friends caught up in politics. But Laila is unable to commit herself to any cause: her own fight for independence is a struggle against the claustrophobia of traditional life, from which she can only break away when she falls in love with a man whom her family has not chosen for her. With its beautiful evocation of India, its political insight and unsentimental understanding of the human heart, Sunlight on a Broken Column is a classic of Muslim life."

Short Stories

* Phoenix Fled (1953, Chatto & Windus; 1988, Virago Press, with a new introduction by Anita Desai [ISBN: 0 86068 641 8])
  • Phoenix Fled
  • The First Party
  • The Street of the Moon
  • Time is Unredeemable
  • After the Storm
  • The Daughter-in-Law
  • The Loss
  • A Woman and a Child
  • Gossamer Thread
  • This was all the Harvest
  • White Leopard
  • Ramu
"`Listen to me child. You will be a woman soon and must behave well and with modesty. The Kazi will ask you three times whether you will marry Kalloo Mian. Now don't you be shameless, oike these modern educated girls, and shout gleefully "Yes." Be modest and cry softly and say "Hoon"'

"A marriage has been arranged between a little servant girl and a middle-aged cook with an opium habit; an idealistic political worker faces disillusionment; a servant returns to a wife he scarcely knows; a conventional bride has her first encounter with her husband's `emancipated' friends: telling of the lives of servants and children, of conflict between the old traditions and the new, modern civilisation, and exploring the human repercussions of the Muslim/Hindu divide, these twelve short stories present a moving and vivid picture of life in India. To each episode Attia Hosain brings a superb imaginative understanding and a sense of the poignancy of the smallest of human dramas."

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