Summer read: Basti

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This novel, by Pakistani writer Intizar Husain, describes the forced emigration of Muslim families living in Dilli to Lahore during the violent 1947 partition of India.  Originally written in Urdu and translated mostly into English, it has a lot of literary and poetic stylings typical of Urdu writing and largely untranslatable, but as an introduction to the Partition for one such as myself who’s never heard of it, you can’t do better.  The property of Muslims in India was seized and allocated to Hindus, and vice-versa in newly formed Pakistan.  People slaughtered each other along religion lines.  It was a mess.  By the way, Urdu and Hindi are about the same, minus the calligraphy.  It’s the labels that count!

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