Essence of Camphor by Naiyer Masud

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Hauntingly beautiful short stories with strong affinities to Kafka and Borges, by one of the most original voices to emerge from India. Indian author Naiyer Masud has long been hailed as a leading writer in his native Lucknow, where he has won several prestigious literary awards. Now seven of Masud's most highly regarded stories have been translated from Urdu for the first time, introducing to a wider audience the work of a master of the short story and opening a window on an exciting literary tradition. In spare, abstract language reminiscent of Kafka and Borges, Masud creates a lush landscape of dreams and disillusion. A parfumier mixes memory with desire to recall the older girl who influenced his destiny. A dispossessed boy learns difficult lessons of love and its transparencies from a young girl who has never set foot on land. A man escapes his incestuous longings to become a building inspector with the unusual ability to detect in houses their obscure realms of fear and desire. Masud's "irreducibly authentic" (Safdir Mir, Dawn) and "enlightening" (Muzaffar Ali Syed, The Friday Times) work reflects his careful ear for the strange and uneven rhythms beneath a highly routinized everydayness, which lend these stories their mystical yet deeply human tone.

About Naiyer Masud

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Masud is a retired professor Persian at Lucknow University in India.
Published March 1, 1998 by Katha. 247 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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The complex burdens imposed by memory and the intricacies of familial love and obligation are analyzed with breathtaking subtlety in this brilliant debut collection of seven tales, written in the Urdu language by an Indian-born writer, critic, and teacher.

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Publishers Weekly

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Another folkloric story, ""Ba'i's Mourners,"" has a marvelous beginning: ""Few people know--perhaps none--that for a long time in my boyhood I used to be mortally afraid of brides."" The narrator's dread derives from a family story about a bride who was bitten by a centipede in the carriage that ...

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