Ismat Chughtai is an Indian Urdu writer who began her career in the 1930s. She strongly wrote about female sexuality, femininity, middle-class gentility, and the class conflict. Often characterized as literary realism, her content is as relevant today as it was when penned years ago. She is much known for her path-breaking, unapologetic and riveting language.
Her prolific and expansive literature won her the Padma Shri in 1976.
|Ismat Chughtai Books
|Lifting The Veil
|The Crooked Line: Tehri Lakeer
|Life In Words
|A Chughtai Quartet: The Heart Breaks Free, The Wild One, Obsession, Wild Pigeons
|The Three Innocents, & Ors. Chughtai On Childhood
|The Heart Breaks Free & The Wild One
|My Friend, My Enemy: Essays, Reminiscences, Portraits
|A Very Strange Man
1. The Crooked Line: Tehri Lakeer
The Crooked Line: Tehri Lakeer is a semi-autobiographical tale of a fiery, spirited and middle-class Muslim girl. Honest and passionate, the book discusses complex relationships, nature of consuming desires and the development between women living and working in relative seclusion. The intellectual and emotional contradictions lying in the heart of the novel are set in the time of a rebellious country at the brink of independence.
Year Of Publication: 1940
Written as an Urdu short story, Lihaaf (The Quilt) is narrated by a nine-year-old girl who is the niece of the protagonist, Begum Jan. When the young girl visits Begum’s home, she notices that the aunt is constantly ignored by her husband. Soon she discovers that it is so because his interest lies in the other gender. Controversial and uproar, this tale is a bold reflection of Ismat’s thoughts.
Year Of Publication: 1942
Set in the film world of the 1950s, Masooma combines gritty anger and biting realism to unravel the dark underbelly of Bombay. The book traces an innocent young girl named Masooma’s story who comes to Bombay with her mother in the hope of becoming a star. However, soon she is trapped in the game of exploitation, lust, and treachery.
Year Of Publication: 1961
4. A Very Strange Man: Ajeeb Admi
Set in the film world of the 1940s and 1950s, A Very Strange Man centers on the story of Dharam Dev, a famous actor, director, and producer. Passionate about Zarina Jamal, a young dancer from Madras, Dev brings her to Bombay and transforms her into a great actress. Thereafter, Zarina abandons Dev leaving him friendless and alone. This vintage novel also scans the Bombay film scene of that time.
Year Of Publication: 1970
5. The Heart Breaks Free & The Wild One
The Heart Breaks Free and The Wild One are two stories combined in a single volume. The Heart Breaks Free accounts the story of two women who are caught in the grip of singleness. On the other hand, The Wild One revolves around Asha and Puran who simultaneously discover the intoxication of young love and the stranglehold of class division. Provocative, witty and intensely human, this book delivers all that one can expect from Ismat’s novels.
Year Of Publication: 1993
6. My Friend, My Enemy: Essays, Reminiscences, Portraits
My Friend, My Enemy is a collection of Ismat’s prose writing, comprising essays, commentaries, and pen-portraits of her contemporaries. The book draws a realistic image of the artistic, political and social mores of her times while serving as a background to her work.
Year Of Publication: 2001
7. Lifting The Veil
Lifting The Veil explores female sexuality in the sound of unparalleled frankness. Combining fiction and non-fiction writings, the book also examines the political and social mores of the era. Ismat’s scintillating dialogues, wry humour, wit, and detail make this one a must read.
Year Of Publication: 2001
8. A Chughtai Quartet: The Heart Breaks Free, The Wild One, Obsession, Wild Pigeons
The four novellas compiled in A Chughtai Quartet span the inimitable Ismat’s literary career from 1939 to 1971. Through diverse stories about women who experience love, tragedy and societal prescriptions with a rebellious spirit, Chughtai delivers a critique on the hypocrisy of social mores. Catch her vivid imagination and marvelous storytelling in this masterpiece.
Year Of Publication: 2005
9. Life In Words
Life in Words is a celebrated memoir that accounts the delightful and crucial years of Ismat Chughtai’s life. The book paints a picture of her childhood and the conflicted experiences of growing up in a large Muslim family. She also details about the fight for education and her struggle to find her voice as a writer. Compellingly readable, this one will keep you intrigued till the very last page.
Year Of Publication: 2012
10.The Three Innocents, & Ors. Chughtai On Childhood
Shedding all the certainties of an adult, Ismat steps into the shoes of a child to write The Three Innocents, & Ors. She presents us with scrapes, situations, and sentiments that are refreshing in their candour. The book is a rare glimpse of lesser-known aspects of Ismat’s writing, which is warm, humorous and affectionate.
Year Of Publication: 2016