In the last decade, many books appeared on Kashmir - both fiction and non-fiction that tacked the question of Kashmir's conflict and offered glimpses into people's history like Kashmiri journalist Basharat Peer's remarkable memoir Curfewed Night (2010) to Mirza Waheed's debut novel Collaborator (2011) that told the story of the bruised valley in a haunting narrative. The writing on Kashmir in the past decade has seen an explosion. This year too, Kashmir's contested and bartered history was written about in fiction and non-fiction alike.
Basharat Ali presents a list of ten books on Kashmir that came out in 2018. A brief description of each book serves as an introductory note for our readers. Wande Magazine welcomes reviews of any of these books from our readers and also of those not included here.
A book on Kashmir? Not entirely but Kashmir forms an important backdrop to the story of Tilottama, one of the two central characters of the novel. Tilottama is in love with a Kashmiri militant, Musa (naam tou suna hi hoga), is admired by her landlord, and marries another man. Based on this novel, the UK based newspaper The Spectator called Kashmir Roy’s “big cause”.
Kashmiri writer Feroz Rather’s first novel, The Night of Broken Glass, is a collection of interconnected stories unravelling the festering wounds of Kashmiri society caused by military violence. Through stories of recurring characters, the author also explores issues of religion, gender, and caste. The thirteen stories in this novel come together to form a single narrative of depredations visited on Kashmir.
The book opens in the summer of 1986 when the protagonist, Samir, is just 9 years old. He grows up to become a militant to avenge the killing of his best friend at the hands of a renegade. When Samir gets the opportunity to kill the Ikhwaen he leaves him wounded. The House on the River is a story of multiple conflicts, personal and political.
Award-winning author Siddhartha Gigoo’s Mehr is a love story of a much-older Pakistani Shia woman, Mehr un Nisa, and a Kashmiri man Firdous. They are separated by borders and the mutual hostility Pakistan and India have for each other. The two lovers make desperate attempts to meet when they come in the eyes of an Indian intelligence officer. The intensity and expression of their love are captured in the e-mails they write to each other.
A former ‘top cop’ presents an eyewitness account of the events leading up to the outbreak of militancy in Kashmir. Detailing the role of J & K Police in handling the uprising and that of Indian forces, this book presents some important insider details of some major events—the election of 1987, the appointment of Governor Jagmohan etcetera—which shaped the future of Kashmir.
As one of the longest-serving Kashmiri Member of the Indian Parliament, Saifuddin Soz has been a witness to, and most likely a part of, most of the political machinations tried by the Indian state to control Kashmir. In this book, he dives deep in the ancient history of Kashmir and offers an account of the present by consulting a number of academic sources. He believes that the people of Kashmir are vastly misunderstood. Be assured, Mr. Soz’s language in the book is milder than we hear in his television appearances.
The militancy in Kashmir ‘ended’ by the year 2007, says Devadas. What is happening now is only a result of continuing counter-insurgency strategies, social media mobilization, religion, and training in the promotion of a discourse of colonization and victimhood. In The Generation of Rage, there are those who are Indian because they want a career in modeling and there are those who cheer for Pakistan only because of ‘anti-India and Muslim solidarity’. Then there are also those who don’t know what they want.
Shujaat Bukhari was assassinated outside his office on 14th June 2018. He was the Editor-in-Chief of the English daily Rising Kashmir. This book is a collection of his reports from May 2017 to the day of his assassination. Besides reports, there are opinion pieces he wrote about the conflict in and over Kashmir. He was an advocate of a resolution to Kashmir dispute through dialogue and that becomes clear through a critical examination of his writings.
Pakistani writer Anam Zakaria’s second book is an attempt to ‘learn from ordinary Kashmiris what they have been through’. The Kashmiris here are those who live on the other side of the line dividing them from their families on this side. The central focus of the book is the people living in Neelam Valley. They are always in danger of coming under artillery shells fired on the border from both sides.
In this book, former interlocutor and academic Radha Kuma try to write the details of her engagement with the conflict in Kashmir. It begins with the uncritical acceptance of labels like the ‘sacred geography’ and navigates quickly through the years of Dogra rule to inform us that “the goal of an Islamic Caliphate that some young Kashmiris began to fight for in the 2010s dates back to 1931”. However, her treatment of the composite dialogue between Pakistan and India is of some academic importance.♦