Books For You | A Promised Land by Khadija Mastur

Editor | Fiction
Set in Pakistan in the aftermath of Partition, the novel raises questions about gender and identity that are relevant even today.
In the wake of the Partition, a new country is born. As millions of refugees pour into Pakistan, swept up in a welter of chaos and deprivation, Sajidah and her father find their way to the Walton refugee camp, uncertain of their future in what is to become their new home.
Sajidah longs to be reunited with her beloved Salahuddin, but her journey out of the camp takes an altogether unforeseen route. Drawn into the lives of another family-refugees like herself-she is wary of its men, particularly Nazim, the eldest son whose gaze lingers over her. But it is the women of the household whose lives and choices will transform her the most: the passionately beseeching Saleema, her domineering mother Khala Bi, the kind but forlorn Amma Bi, and the feisty young housemaid Taji.
With subtlety and insight, Khadija Mastur conjures a dynamic portrait of spirited women whose lives are wrought by tragedy and trial even as they cling defiantly to the promise of a better future.
About the author
Khadija Mastur (1927-82) was a renowned and award-winning Urdu writer from Pakistan, famous for her novels and short stories. She is best remembered for her novel Aangan, published in Penguin Classics as The Women’s Courtyard.
About the translator
Daisy Rockwell is an artist, writer and translator living in northern New England, USA. Apart from her essays on literature and art, she has written Upendranath Ashk: A Critical Biography, The Little Book of Terror and the novel Taste. Her highly acclaimed translations include, among others, Upendranath Ashk’s Falling Walls, Bhisham Sahni’s Tamas, Khadija Mastur’s The Women’s Courtyard and, most recently, Krishna Sobti’s A Gujarat Here, A Gujarat There.

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