Rescued from the translator Kalpana Raina’s former Kashmiri home and brought together from the pages of out of print magazines and fading library copies, this collection resurrects the work of a doyen of Kashmiri Pandit literature, never before translated into English. Kaul’s layered and imaginative stories brim with nuanced detail as they convey the complex realities in Kashmir. In prose that captures both the subtleties and the dramatic intensity of cultural and class tension, Kaul’s characters navigate their ever-changing environs with biting humor as they make uncomfortable compromises to survive. From two students who fret that the world will pass them by as they fail to memorize their multiplication tables, to a woman facing the first days in an uneasy exile at her daughter inlaw’s Delhi home, to a father and son confined to a small flat in a thunderstorm pondering their past and future Kaul’s stories catalog and dissect the tenuous way people struggle to find relevance in their new surroundings.
Brought into English by a team of translators within and without Kashmir, these eighteen stories are a masterful collaborative effort, achieved through repeated listening to recordings of the Kashmir. Together, they recover the dramas of a syncretic society both unraveled and vibrant in these resonant, deeply human (and, occasionally, surreal) stories.