On Back Stage

Salma is a consummate storyteller, blending poetry and prose, gossip and history. Lakshmi Holmstrom's admirable translation carries the reader into the sweep of oral, talkative, busy people.
The Hour Past Midnight
By Salma (Tr. By Lakshmi Holmstrom)
Zubaan Pages: 478; Rs. 350
Salma’s is not a casual book about lifting the veil and catching a voyeuristic glimpse of the Muslim world. Instead, she pushes away a host of cliches. Salma guides us through the intricacies of women’s layered social structures, where men exist only to provide a choric voice of authority. Rabia’s blossoming youth and sexual urge, Firdaus’s transgression and tragedy, Wahida’s frustrated anger, Zohra’s tenuous balance and the tales of numerous other women reveal how no pan-Islamic formula can bring us to an understanding of female desire and the institutional controls over it.

Arranged along the month of Ramzan and the elaborate culinary practices of ritual fasting, the novel uses food, clothing and domestic space to give an authentic picture of tradition even as it poses questions about its modern adaptability. Sometimes, Salma’s women succeed in opening a path to education, to love, to friendship—at other times they are weighed down by the past’s baggage.

A marvelous cast of characters reminds us of other female fictions like Anjana Appachana’s Listening Now and Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. Salma uses a village setting, perhaps gathered from her own experience of being a community leader, a sarpanch, in Tamil Nadu. The tales are interwoven like braided hair, distinct yet together. Salma is a consummate storyteller, blending poetry and prose, gossip and history. Lakshmi Holmstrom’s admirable translation carries the reader into the sweep of oral, talkative, busy people.

READ MORE IN:
A Cool Hand Bibliofile
Download the Outlook ​Magazines App. Six magazines, wherever you go! Play Store and App Store

Post a Comment

You are not logged in, please Log in or Register
  • Daily Mail
THE LATEST ISSUE
CLICK IMAGE FOR CONTENTS
REVIEW
Review
Taslima’s solipsistic atomism jars, but one must admire her spirit in the face of slimy intolerance
MAGAZINE December 01, 2016
Review
The autobiography of one of our top scientists avoids scientific matters, or even the state of Indian scientific research. It’s just a roster of his many accomplishments.
MAGAZINE December 01, 2016
Cover Story
An extract from the chapter ‘Why did the CBI avoid (capturing) ­Sivarasan?’ from Rajiv Gandhi assassination convict Nalini Murugan’s ­recently released memoir, Rajiv Killing: Forgotten Truths
MAGAZINE November 25, 2016
Review
An account of late imperial hypocrisy has interpretive errors, but is valuable for the British story
MAGAZINE November 24, 2016
Review
Devdutt Pattanaik’s eminently readable book compares the Indian and Greek myth systems to find convergences and divergences, all through an Indic prism
MAGAZINE November 24, 2016
read more>>>

OUTLOOK TOPICS :

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

or just type initial letters