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, crusading member of the Communist Party of India, Rashid Jahan was radical in a way that defied all expectations — from her social class, her comrades, her peers and colleagues.
A Rebel and Her Cause is a remarkably perceptive, and 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 couterpointing 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. She is also a well-known translator, with eight published translations including works by Premchand, Manto and Renu. She runs an organisation called Hindustani Awaaz, devoted to the popularisation of Hindi-Urdu literature and culture. Her debut collection of fiction, Release and Other Stories, was published in 2011.
B.R. Ambedkar, with an introduction by Arundhati Roy