An NYRB Classics Original
Basti is a beautifully written reckoning with the tragic history of Pakistan. Basti means settlement, a common place, and Intizar Husain's extraordinary novel begins with a mythic, even mystic, vision of harmony between old and young, man and woman, Muslim and Hindu. Then Zakir, the hero, wakes to the modern world. Crowds gather. Slogans echo. Cities burn. Whether hunkered down with family or furtively meeting to exchange news with friends in cafés, Zakir is alone in a country lost to the politics of loneliness.
About this Author
Intizar Husain (1925-2016) was a journalist, short-story writer, and novelist, widely considered one of the most significant fiction writers in Urdu. Born in Dibai, Bulandshahr, in British-administered India, he migrated to Pakistan in 1947 and lived in Lahore. Besides Basti, he was the author of two other novels, Naya Gar (The New House), which paints a picture of Pakistan during the ten-year dictatorship of the Islamic fundamentalist General Zia-ul-Haq, and Agay Sumandar Hai (Beyond Is the Sea), which juxtaposes the spiraling urban violence of contemporary Karachi with a vision of the lost Islamic realm of al-Andalus. Collections of Husain's celebrated short stories have appeared in English under the titles Leaves, The Seventh Door, A Chronicle of the Peacocks, and An Unwritten Epic.
Frances W. Pritchett has taught South Asian literature at Columbia University since 1982. Her books include Nets of Awareness: Urdu Poetry and Its Critics, The Romance Tradition in Urdu: Adventures from the Dastan of Amir Hamzah, and (with Khaliq Ahmad Khaliq) Urdu Meter: A Practical Handbook.
Asif Farrukhi is a writer and a physician trained in public health. He is a frequent contributor to the English-language press of Pakistan and the author of seven short-story collections, two essay collections, and a monograph on Intizar Husain. He is the editor of Fires in an Autumn Garden: Stories from Pakistan, Look at the City from Here: Writings About Karachi, and co-editor of Faultlines, a selection of stories about the 1971 Indo-Pakistani war, and has collaborated with Intizar Husain on the anthology Short Stories from Pakistan.
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