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'There is so much to love and admire in these stories - their understanding of heartbreak, their attention to affection and love across many divides' KAMILA SHAMSIE'Listen to me, child. You will be a woman soon and must behave well and with modesty. The Kazi will ask you three times whether you will marry Kalloo Mian. Now don't you be shameless, like these modern girls, and shout gleefully "e;Yes"e;. Be modest and cry softly and say "e;Hoon"e;.'A marriage is arranged between a little servant girl and a middle-aged cook with an opium habit; an idealistic political worker faces disillusionment; a man returns from years studying in England to a wife he scarcely knows; a conventional bride has her first encounter with her husband's 'emancipated' friends.Telling of the lives of servants and children, of conflict between the old traditions and new ways, and exploring the human repercussions of the Muslim/Hindu divide, these twelve stories present a moving and vivid picture of life in India in the mid-twentieth century. To each episode Attia Hosain brings a superb imaginative understanding and a sense of the poignancy of the smallest of human dramas. Attia Hosain published only two books, but her writing has influenced generations of writers. Discover Sunlight on a Broken Column, Hosain's acclaimed only novel - a coming-of-age story set against the turbulent background of Partition, also published in Virago Modern Classics.
Sunlight on a Broken Column, first published in 1961, is an unforgettable coming-of-age story set against the turbulent background of Partition.'The deftness with which Attia Hosain handles the interplay of manners, class, culture and different forms of female power is gorgeously done . . . Laila is such a remarkable heroine - sharp, spirited and passionate' - KAMILA SHAMSIE'An extraordinary novel, with an extraordinary heroine. Laila - even from the confines of the women's quarters - is a sharp observer of the tumultuous politics, and the cultural, racial, and religious conflicts of the dying days of the Raj. There is such richness here, waiting to be rediscovered. And readers will fall in love with Laila' MONICA ALI'My life changed. It had been restricted by invisible barriers almost as effectively as the physically restricted lives of my aunts in the zenana. A window had opened here, a door there, a curtain had been drawn aside; but outside lay a world narrowed by one's field of vision'Laila, orphaned daughter of a distinguished Muslim family, is brought up in her grandfather's traditional household by her aunts, who keep purdah. At fifteen she moves to the home of her 'liberal' but autocratic uncle in Lucknow. As the struggle for Independence sharpens, Laila is surrounded by relatives and university friends caught up in politics, but she is unable to commit herself to any cause: her own fight for independence is a struggle against tradition. With its stunning evocation of India, its political insight and unsentimental understanding of the human heart, Sunlight on a Broken Column is a classic of Muslim life.Attia Hosain published only two books, but her writing has influenced generations of writers. Discover Phoenix Fled, Hosain's acclaimed short-story collection, also published in Virago Modern Classics.