Toiba Paul presents her review of “The Book Thief”, the best-selling novel by Markus Zusak that was also adapted into a popular film. Toiba’s review more specifically addresses the commonalities of the human experience shared between those who lived in wartime Germany with the Nazi regime in power and those who have live in Kashmir. While no direct analogy is perfect, the review focuses on individual experiences and suffering brought about by war and relates these back and forth between the world depicted in the novel and the world that surrounds people living in Kashmir. Since literature and fiction are particularly adept in communicating individual experiences of circumstances as vast as war, Paul is effective in conveying the similitude that exists between the Kashmiri experience under war with that of the characters in Zusak’s novel. In doing so, the young writer makes a compelling case for why “The Book Thief” should be read widely in Kashmir and how it can help contextualize the unaddressed experiences of those who live or have had to live under brutal violence and repression.
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The Celluloid Years — An Excerpt from KASHMIR: Looking Back in Time - Politics, Culture, History (Atlantic, 2021) by Khalid Bashir Ahmad
Inverse Journal presents an exclusive excerpt from Khalid Bashir Ahmad’s latest book “Kashmir: Looking Back in Time — Politics, Culture, History” (Atlantic, 2021). In this sixth chapter of the book (courtesy of Atlantic Publishers), Bashir Ahmad provides a detailed account of how film culture entered into Kashmir with the emergence of cinemas in multiple locations of the Valley. In covering the concrete history of cinemas and film-watching culture in Kashmir, the author successfully provides insight into a larger history from a political, cultural and sociological lens as he walks readers through “The Celluloid Years” of Kashmiri history. Inverse Journal has included a section with independently selected relevant links to familiarize readers with the author’s writings.
“What will happen now, Abbu?” — An Excerpt from “Life in the Clock Tower Valley” (Speaking Tiger Books, 2021) by Shakoor Rather
“Life in the Clock Tower Valley”, the debut novel by Kashmiri journalist Shakoor Rather, travels between “Kashmir’s pristine past, its grievous present and always uncertain future, giving us an insider’s view into everyday life and emotions in the conflict-ridden valley.” Inverse Journal presents an exclusive excerpt from the novel, published here with permission from Speaking Tiger Books. Also included is an independently curated list of links pertinent to the novel and its author.
“Chai, Khatai and a Militant” — An Excerpt from Sandeep Raina's A Bit of Everything (Context/Westland, 2020)
Inverse Journal presents an exclusive excerpt from Sandeep Raina’s recently released novel, A Bit of Everything (2020) courtesy of the publisher (Context/Westland). This excerpt is accompanied by an independently curated visual bibliography relevant to the novel and its author.
“Nothing moved except the mirage”: Analysing Fear and Freedom in Adania Shibli’s Minor Detail — by Dr. Chaandreyi Mukherjee
Dr. Chaandreyi Mukherjee presents an academic paper that is also a book review for Palestinian author Adania Shibli’s 2020 novel, “Minor Detail” (New Directions). A finalist for the National Book Award, “Minor Detail” is one of the most relevant works of contemporary Palestinian literature that connects 1949 and the Nakba with present day Palestine—as its protagonist digs into the past to uncover horrific truths. Mukherjee’s response and writing on the novel and its many themes is essential to understanding the greater depth to be found in decades of Israeli occupation over Palestinian land and life. The academic not only includes relevant criticism within this piece but also integrates theoretical formulations and observations by various scholars and thinkers that are pertinent to her own readings, such that through her ‘book-review-as-academic-paper’ one gets access to entire bodies and fields of knowledge, from postcolonial theory to resistance literature. Just as “Minor Detail” tells the story of a people and their larger history by means of a protagonist, Dr. Mukherjee’s paper offers multiple vectors of understanding in order to facilitate incisive critical engagement with this recent work of Palestinian literature.
While embedded with an Army unit in eastern Afghanistan, I was blinded by a rocket launcher hit to the face.
Preface and Introduction: The Many Faces of Kashmiri Nationalism (Speaking Tiger Books, 2020) — by Nandita Haksar
In January of this year, Nandita Haksar’s “The Many Faces of Kashmiri Nationalism” (Speaking Tiger Books, 2020) was re-released in a revised and updated version taking into account the revocation of Article 370 by the Indian government (on August 5, 2019). According to its author, this book “traces the tortured history of Kashmiri nationalism, primarily through the lives of two men: Sampat Prakash, a Kashmiri Pandit and Communist trade union leader who became active in politics during the Cold War years, and Mohammad Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri Muslim who became politically active at the beginning of the Kashmir insurgency, coinciding with the end of the Cold War, the defeat of Soviet Union, and the start of the War on Terror. The stories of many other Kashmiris are also woven into this account.” Whereas the introduction to the book epigraphs verses written by Bahar Kashmiri in the 1940s, the preface to this updated version begins with lyrics from “Elaan” (July 2019), a song by Kashmiri rapper Ahmer Javed. We present the preface to the revised edition and the introduction to Nandita’s book here, courtesy of its publisher, Speaking Tiger Books. Included are relevant articles, interviews and videos at the end of this document to familiarize readers with Nandita Haksar’s greater work as a human rights lawyer, teacher, activist and writer.
A prolific and multidimensional writer, Amin Kamil proved to be one of the defining littérateurs of Kashmiri language.
Four years after its release, “Do You Remember Kunan Poshpora?” (Zubaan Books, 2016) remains relevant as an essential text that is read, re-read and reviewed, as is the case with this piece by Shah Munnes Muneer. Authored by five women researchers and activists, the book revisits and details the documented case of mass rape and torture of Kashmiris by the Indian army that took place on the intervening night of February 23rd and 24th (1991) in the adjacent hamlets of Kunan and Poshpora (Kupwara). Given the unrelenting spirit and perseverance of the victims, February 23rd is commemorated as Kashmiri Women’s Resistance Day as the struggle for justice continues. As part of such a commemoration, we have included key media and articles embedded directly herein from their original sources.
An “annexe” to a book can reveal the great detail and dedication with which such a book has been researched, elaborated and written. Such is the case with this excerpt from Onaiza Drabu’s The Legend of Himal and Nagrai (Spoken Tiger Books, 2019) that the author names the “Dictionary of Kashmiri Imponderabilia.” The excerpt is an annex listing words, proverbs, expressions and phrases taken from the Kashmiri language in a retelling in English of a series of Kashmiri folktales that, in the field of world literature, are equivalents to One Thousand and One Nights (Alf Laylah wa-Laylah), Aesop’s Fables, Grimms’ Fairy Tales, The Decameron or James Stephen’s Irish Fairy Tales. We have included the summary of Drabu’s book (from the publisher), along with her author’s note on this “Dictionary of Kashmiri Imponderabilia” as well as relevant links. All materials published with permission from the publisher, Spoken Tiger Books.
Book Review: The Poetics of Transgenerational Trauma (Meera Atkinson, Bloomsbury, 2017) — by Katie Lally
Via Creative Commons, here is Katie Lally’s review of Meera Atkinson’s “The Poetics of Transgenerational Trauma” (Bloomsbury, 2017).
Reading Discourses of Power and Violence in Emerging Kashmiri Literature in English: The Collaborator and Curfewed Night — by Amrita Ghosh
Abstract: This essay studies two literary texts on Kashmir, The Collaborator (2011) by Mirza Waheed and Curfewed Night (2010) by Basharat Peer and analyzes the discourses of power and covert and overt forms of violence that the works present. It first contextualizes events from the last three years that have occurred in Kashmir to present forms of violence Kashmiri subjects undergo in the quotidian of life. Thereafter, it situates the two works by the Kashmiri writers in the growing body of writing in English on Kashmir and historicizes the conflict. The essay, thus, argues that the selected literary works represent Kashmir as a unique postcolonial conflict zone that defies an easy terminology to understand the onslaught of violence, and the varied forms of power. As analyzed in the article, one finds a curious merging of biopolitics and necropolitics that constructs the characters as “living dead” within this emergency zone. For this, the theoretical trajectory of the essay is mapped out to show the transition from Foucault and Agamben’s idea of biopolitics to Mbembe’s concept of necropolitics. Thereafter, essay concludes how the two texts illustrate Agamben’s notion of the bare life is not enough to understand subjects living in this unique postcoloniality. The presence of death and the dead bodies go beyond bare life and shows how that bodies become significant signifiers that construct a varied notion of agency.
Professor Inshah Malik reviews Raio Farman Ali’s “History of Armed Struggles in Kashmir” with an elaborate analysis and a brief yet detailed view of the different parts of the book.
Hoda Khatebi converses with Sanjay Kak, editor of “Until My Freedom Has Come” (Penguin, 2011), contributor Mohamad Junaid and Professor Hafsa Kanjwal about the present circumstances faced by Kashmiris in context of what the important text discussed eight years ago upon its publication. This revisitation to the book is as relevant as ever, especially considering the current climate entrapping Kashmir. Attached along with the Youtube Live Stream of the one-and-a-half hour discussion is a series of bibliographical references and resources to familiarize readers with some of the extensive work about Kashmir by the participants.