A Rebel and her Cause
The Life and Work of Rashid Jahan
Despite a brief and slender literary career, Rashid Jahan blazed like a meteor in the progressive firmament of pre- and post-Independence India. Doctor, writer, political activist, and a crusading member of the Communist Party of India (CPI), Rashid 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 Rashid Jahan’s best known stories and plays. Through a subtle counterpointing of Rashid Jahan’s political purpose with her literary and professional skills and sensibility, 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. This intense engagement is reflected in every facet of her life and literature, as they unfold here in vivid and compelling prose.
Rakhshanda Jalil is a writer, critic, and literary historian. Her published work comprises edited anthologies. Among them are a selection of Pakistani women writers entitled, Neither Night Nor Day; and Invisible City, a collection of essays on Delhi. She is co-author of Partners in Freedom: Jamia Millia Islamia, and Journey to a Holy Land: A Pilgrim’s Diary. She is also a well-known translator, with eight published translations of Munshi Premchand, Asghar Wajahat, Saadat Hasan Manto, Shahryar, Intezar Hussain, and Phanishwarnath Renu. Rakhshanda runs an organization called Hindustani Awaaz devoted to the popularization of Hindi-Urdu literature and culture. Her debut collection of fiction, Release & Other Stories, was published in 2011.