For Now, It Is Night: Stories


Translated from by , , ,

Published: February 20th, 2024





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Book Description

Hari Krishna Kaul’s short stories, shaped by the social crisis and political instability in Kashmir, explore – with a sharp eye for detail, biting wit, and empathy – themes of isolation, alienation, corruption, and the social mores of a community that experienced a loss of homeland, culture, and language. His characters navigate their ever-changing environs with humor as they make uncomfortable compromises to survive. Two friends cling to their multiplication tables while the world shifts around them; a group of travelers are forced to seek shelter in a rickety hostel after a landslide; a woman faces the first days in an uneasy exile at her daughter-in-law’s Delhi home. Kaul dissects the ways we struggle to make sense of new surroundings. These glimpses of life are bittersweet and profound; Kaul’s characters carry their loneliness with wisdom and grace. Beautifully translated in a unique collaborative project, For Now, It Is Night brings many of Kaul’s resonant stories to English readers for the first time.

These meditative, minutely-observed stories bring back to life a Kashmiri culture that is tragically fading into the past. Kaul’s observations of everyday life in the valley have a particular poignancy in light of his own displacement in 1990. The personal struggles of his characters take place against a backdrop of political turmoil, and For Now, It Is Night will bring English-speaking readers a new understanding of Kashmir, beyond the headlines.
Hari Kunzru, author of Red Pill and White Tears

Considerable effort has gone into making this book a reality; there were significant obstacles every step of the way . . . The result of this tremendous endeavour is a collection that represents Kaul as a chronicler of his times, mapping memory and history. In delving into psyches and pedestrian realities, an enduring theme in his work is the uncertainty and ambiguity that dogs the lives of Kashmiri people . . . True to Kaul’s dedication as a writer for his people, For Now, It Is Night also shines a light on their collective endurance, adaptability, and will to march on
Areeb Ahmad, Asymptote Journal

Kaul’s subtle collection explores the divide between Hindus and Muslims in late-20th-century Kashmir. The stories . . . tease out the tension between the two cultures through asides and observations . . . Throughout, Kaul’s lyrical prose is lucidly translated; during a quiet and stultifying summer night in “A Song of Despair,” the narrator feels “as if someone was holding the wind captive.” This mosaic of ruptured lives astonishes.
Publishers Weekly

For Now, It Is Night is a transcendent, breathtaking work. In these pages, Hari Krishna Kaul's writing: nuanced and tender, provocative and witty, manages to balance large questions of homeland, community, and religion with strikingly lovely portraits of ordinary individuals seeking companionship, security, and love. Translated with uncommon sensitivity, these stories pulse with some of the most urgent questions of our time.
Maaza Mengiste, author of The Shadow King

Kaul, who died in exile in 2009 at the age of 75, left an intricate body of work that amounts to sly, detailed portraits of domestic life set against the backdrop of religious and political tensions . . . For Now, It Is Night is an enthralling — and welcome — reclamation of Kaul’s fiction by a team of four translators . . . Kaul’s work shimmers with questions of reality and illusion, home and exile.
Anderson Tepper, New York Times Book Review

Kaul’s subtle collection explores the divide between Hindus and Muslims in late-20th-century Kashmir. The stories . . . tease out the tension between the two cultures through asides and observations . . . Throughout, Kaul’s lyrical prose is lucidly translated; during a quiet and stultifying summer night in “A Song of Despair,” the narrator feels “as if someone was holding the wind captive.” This mosaic of ruptured lives astonishes.
Publishers Weekly

The sensations of reading Kaul are akin to those felt when watching the masters of slow-paced cinema, like Bresson or Bela Tarr. As in a Tarr film, the point is not to extrapolate a larger meaning from a roadside encounter or a simple transaction; the point is to immerse oneself in the details of ordinary life and the texture of a moment.
The Brooklyn Rail

Masterful... The frustrations and disappointments of the people, both Muslims and Pandits, are sensitively felt and fearlessly depicted.
Neerja Mattoo

A valuable introduction to one of contemporary Kashmir’s most distinguished, if unsung, literary voices... This volume makes itself indispensable to the ways in which we seek to understand the vexed recent past of Kashmir.
Sanjay Kak

Tenderly told and beautifully translated, these tales, both fabled and realistic, conjure a lost time.
Farah Bashir

Sets a new standard for translations from Kashmiri even as it calls attention to a remarkable writer.
Suvir Kaul

Reveals visionary insights into what it means to be human... An extraordinary writer.
Mirza Waheed

Kaul deftly traces movement and transformation... While at times he makes use of phantasmagoric devices, his primary concerns are earthbound, everyday and human... Kaul subverts the binaries of good and evil, friend and enemy, self and other... His stories recover a nuanced, multi-faceted history of a crucial period of political transition and rupture in Kashmir.
Gowhar Fazili

Kaul structures his narratives as excavations that reveal the web of reality beneath the surface. His frameless representations of Kashmiri society are sometimes so real that one can touch them.
Tanveer Ajsi

There are no grand themes in Kaul’s work but an exploration and ultimately an acceptance of human limitations. He used his personal experiences to explore universal themes of isolation, individual and collective alienation, and the shifting circumstances of a community that went on to experience a significant loss of homeland, culture, and ultimately language.
Kaplana Raina

Kaul’s stories are a testament to the power of literature to illuminate the subtleties of human experience, transcending regional and cultural boundaries, and provoking contemplation to find meaning in the entire scheme of seemingly random events, experiences, and actions.
Manisha Gangahar, The Tribune

With an impressive eye for detail, biting wit, and deep empathy… Kaul provides an irreverent examination of exile that resonates across time and place.
Nawaid Anjum, The Federal

Masterfully translated by Tanveer Ajsi, Gowhar Fazili, Gowhar Yaqoob and Kaul’s niece Kalpana Raina, these stories transport readers into the cultural essence of Kashmir while exploring timeless themes of love, morality, death, and the paradoxes underlying human relationships.
Muhammad Nadeem, Kashmir Life

Kaul writes as if what oppresses Kashmiris is no longer something historical, human and contingent, but something irrevocable and unyielding. Yet even as he writes in this way, he knows the duplicity of doing so. Yes, let us blame the weather, he says ironically... There is much more that could be said about these stories... about the wry humour that leavens them, the spirit of Kafka that sometimes seems to flash across a story... The labour of love that has produced this beautiful translation will find fertile ground only if we read, reflect upon, and in turn translate these stories into our own thought-worlds.
Simona Sawhney, The Wire

Kaul’s writings can be divided into the pre-exile and post-exile era, but his subjects and concerns have always focused on Kashmiris regardless of religion, community, or caste. Everything that influenced his own life, including the trauma of exile, became a subject in his work... For Kaul, stories were a medium of self-expression. He carved out portraits of everyday living, and if you look closely, his stories reveal a world of desire and yearning.
Niyati Bhat, Scroll

One of the reasons why Chekhov is considered to be one of the greatest short story writers is his mastery over time . . . For Now, It Is Night, a recently published collection of short stories of the Kashmiri writer Hari Krishna Kaul, understands this quite well. Many of the 17 stories here deliver precisely that insect-trapped-in-amber feeling. And the exhibit under display is Kashmir itself, in all its contradictions and challenges, upheavals and displacements.
Aditya Mani Jha, The Hindu

While social and political turmoil shapes the situations in these stories, [Kaul’s] empathy is always with his characters, both Hindu and Muslim. Subtle, nuanced and haunting, these tales are meditations on Kashmiri life by a master storyteller. They do more than just engage the reader: they foster understanding.
Madhavi S. Mahadevan, Deccan Herald

The subtle dynamics that bind fathers and sons, husbands and wives, and grandmothers and grandsons are teased out in stories that, more often than not, speak to the loneliness and isolation within families, heightened when distance pulls generations apart . . . This volume [has] a range and depth that truly honours Kaul’s contribution to Kashmiri literature and makes it accessible to a new generation of English language readers.
Joseph Schreiber, Rough Ghosts

Read “The News,” a story from the collection, in Out of Print Magazine and “A Moment of Madness” in The Brooklyn Rail.