Information on books of literary criticism and translated anthologies of short stories

Nameless Lanes

‘Nameless Lanes’ is a collection of stories carefully translated from Urdu. It includes the finest works of some of the best Indian writers of Urdu short stories in the twentieth century. All of them are dead now, but their works live to reflect, each in its own inimitable way, the society in which they were created. The stories alternate between the inner world of the protagonists’ painful nostalgia, excessive psychopathological narcissism, spiritual subterfuge, the crisis of identity, and the outer existential realities of a society, ridden with class hatred, violence, destruction of human dignity, and in a constantly menacing flux of unpredictable circumstances, plunging the characters into the appalling dilemma of existence. Hussain’s translation is more than the rendering of a text from one language to another; it is the introduction into English of a completely different society and an array of human experiences exceedingly strange, a sobering transcreation of the original stories unfolding characters in constant conflict with the microcosmic and macrocosmic realities pervading their existence.

An English Anthology of some well-known Urdu stories translated by Syed Sarwar Hussain; published by Kitaab International, Singapore, 2016. ISBN: 9789810989552

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The Eastern Brew


‘THE EASTERN BREW’ is a translation of some selected Urdu short stories written by prominent writers from India and Pakistan. These stories are as varied in their subject matters as they are in the assortment of writers presented in this anthology. The selection is not incidental or impulsive but premeditated and is based on careful consideration. It encapsulates almost fifty years of Urdu short story writing from both sides of the border, representing the vicissitudes of life and times during the years of drastic political and social changes, and the struggles and conflicts, psychological or otherwise, of characters living through those tumultuous times. Though it is not possible to collect the works of representative writers of Urdu fiction spanning more than two generations in a short anthology of fifteen stories, an attempt has, nevertheless, been made to bring before the English readers the various threads of human relationships, social, personal, and psychological, that weaved or warped the life of characters in the exciting stories in this collection. The anthology thus provides to the readers of other languages an insight into the changing patterns and concerns of Urdu literary art during a span of two generations, and the life and times of people in the sub-continent living through the change.

An English translation by Syed Sarwar Hussain of some Urdu stories by prominent writers from the sub-continent; published by Partridge  India & Author Solutions), A Penguin Random House Publishing Company, London, New Delhi, November 22, 2013. ISBN 10: 1482812568; ISBN 13: 9781482812565; 9781482812541.

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Ashes in the Fire


Ashes in the Fire’ is a collection of stories translated from Urdu by Dr. Syed Sarwar Hussain. The original work ‘Aag key under Raakh’, was written by Abdus Samad, the Sahitya Akademi (Indian Academy of Letters) Award winning Indian writer. The stories have been written from multiple perspectives, interlinking the debilitating impact of social, cultural, and historical forces pervading the lives of people, and taking the edge off their material and moral existence. The undercurrent of feminism is accentuated in most of the stories in the collection, but the writer treats them with detachment and irony in some stories and with emotional intensity in others.

The translation is significantly interesting in its literary merit as well as its appeal to general readers. It effectively contributes in bringing Urdu literature to the arena of global literature, trans-creating the work without the loss of salience, while maintaining its intent, style, tone and context. His fluent and idiomatic language never misses to capture the flavor of the original work, and is indisputably a solid addition to South Asian literature collections.

English translation of the stories of Abdus Samad, the Indian Literary Academy Award Winner Urdu novelist; translated and edited by Syed Sarwar Hussain; published in 2012, by Satyam Publishing House, New Delhi, India; ISBN: 978-93-81632-26-0;

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Despairing voices


‘Despairing Voices’ is a collection of short stories translated from Urdu. Vastly dissimilar in background, style, expression, treatment of subject, and their vision, these stories express, in different ways, some of the common concerns of Urdu writers in India and Pakistan. These stories, each in its own way, with its unique style, have a tale to tell, of man in the post-modern world, of the personal predicament that wrecks him, and of his existence splintered by the clash of fundamental and glaring contradictions that control his destiny. The anthology is a sensitive selection of contemporary Urdu short stories by prominent Indo-Pak writers. Though not definitive of course, this translation, nevertheless, aims to make the book an interesting reading, and brings it closer to an original work with a sort of creativity tuned in with the spirit of the original work. The stories portray the post-Independence world of India and Pakistan – the two countries separated at the birth of Indian independence – wrecked by clash of identities and ideologies, drastically altering destinies of peoples who suffered the division. A brief history of the birth and growth of English short stories, and the blossoming of the genre in Urdu literature produced in India and Pakistan are given in the Introduction. There are also brief autobiographical sketches of the original writers after the Introduction.

Selected Urdu Short Stories Translated into English; Edited and Translated by Syed Sarwar Hussain; published in 2011 by Satyam Publishing House, New Delhi, India; ISBN: 978-93-801908-6-0

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Ideology and Poetry of Stephen Spender


This book discusses the most primary and obvious facts of Spender’s (a British poet of the 1930s, who has received much critical attention over the past few decades) poetry – his predilection of the Marxist ideology and all that goes along with it. The book probes into the essentials of Spender’s art and breaks new grounds upon Spender criticism. It also asserts with an original insight that Spender was fascinated more by men, events, scenes, and landscapes than by mere ideology. The book further shows as to how Spender amalgamates through his poetry the socio-political ideas and issues, his almost Wordsworthian sense of natural sight and scenery and its artistic portrayal, and his lyric gift, rare among the poets of the ‘Thirties generation, to create a splendid masterpiece of poetic art. The critical study on Spender and the literary milieu during the turbulent ‘Thirties unfolds leaf by leaf what concerns poetry as a genre, and its craft, moral perspective, and place in history with special reference to Stephen Spender.

published in 1998 by Bahri Publications, New Delhi, India, under SELL: SERIES IN ENGLISH LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE-45; ISSN: 0254-0193; 45.