The Friday Times
Despite a brief and slender literary career, Rashid Jahan blazed a trail in the progressive firmament of pre-and post-Independence India. Doctor, writer, political activist and crusading member of the Communist Party of India, Jahan was radical in a way that defied all expectations – from her social class, her comrades, her peers and colleagues.
In a remarkably perceptive, richly detailed account of this pioneering woman, Rakhshanda Jalil offers readers an unusual document: a warm and informed biography – based on archival material, extensive interviews and critical commentaries – together with fine translations of Jahan’s best known stories and plays, including the collection Angarey (which Jahan coauthored with three male peers). By subtly counterpointing Jahan’s political purpose with her literary and professional skills and sensibilities, Jalil paints an arresting portrait of a woman deeply and passionately engaged with the great debates of her time: fascism, imperialism, nationalism, socialism and feminism.
Jalil’s biography fulfills an important service in recognizing the life of one woman who “single-handedly paved the way for other women writers.” Equally important, writes Jalil, “She opened a window of immense possibilities for young Muslim women.” In bringing alive the life and work of a vivacious, engaged women whose epitaph in Moscow reads, “Communist Doctor and Writer”, Jalil traces a long chain of writers linked by a sense of injustice and desire to bring about change.
A Rebel and Her Cause: The Life and Work of Rashid Jahan
by Rakhshanda Jalil
Oxford University Press [hardback], 2015
The Friday Times, “A Rebel and Her Cause: The Life and Work of Rashid Jahan,” in The Friday Times, June 26, 2015. Accessed on June 26, 2015, at: http://www.thefridaytimes.com/tft/on-the-bookshelf-8/
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