Originally published in Urdu in 1959, River of Fire is easily one of the most discussed in contemporary India and widely acclaimed a literary landmark.
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In the 4th century BC Gautam Nilambar, a final year student at the Forest University of Shravasti, chances upon Hari Shankar, a princeling yearning to be a Buddhist monk. He falls in love with the beautiful, sharp-witted Champak. And thus begins a magnificent tale that flows through Time, through Maghadhan Pataliputra, the Kingdom of Oudh, the British Raj and into a Time of Independence.
This fiery river of Time flows along the banks of their lives as they are reborn and recreated, weaving through the twists and turns, the flows and eddies, keeping them together and keeping them apart. The story comes full circle in post-Partition India when Hari Shankar meets his friend Gautam in a grotto in the forest of Shravasti, and mourn the passing of their lives into meaninglessness, their friends who have left for Pakistan, and what remains of their country of which they were once so passionately proud.
Qurratulain Hyder is a leading writer in Urdu fiction in India. A prose stylist of rare accomplishment, she wrote in both Urdu and English, and her books have been translated into all Indian languages. She was awarded the Bharatiya Jnanpith, India’s highest literary award, in 1989. The recipient of a number of other literary awards, she is a Fellow of the Sahitya Akademi, travelled widely and worked as a journalist and broadcaster. Her novel River of Fire, translated by the author from the original Urdu Aag ka Dariya, has achieved epic status in fiction about the subcontinent.