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This Well-Travelled Beauty

The great Qurratulain Hyder could be wonderfully gossipy yet notoriously tetchy. Jameel Akhtar brings out the real person, her world and her creations.

This Well-Travelled Beauty
Prashant Panjiar/Outlook Archives
This Well-Travelled Beauty
outlookindia.com
2017-06-24T11:03:23+05:30

She was a bit of a mystery wrapped in an enigma. With her flaming orange mop of hair and fire-engine red lips, she was reticent, almost monosyllabic in pub­­lic, preferring her pen to speak volumes, while maintaining a prickly silence, broken by a few short but sharp utterances when called upon to speak. One of the finest prose stylists of modern times, the aut­­­­hor of dozens of books, almost all runaway best-sellers, bilingual and cos­­mopo­litan to an extent few writers in Urdu have been, she was also an int­­er­­viewer’s nightmare. Giggly, gir­lish and gossipy one minute, taciturn and evasive the next, charming and insightful one minute, imperious and opaque the next; she could leave you with a sand-slipping-through-your-­fingers feeling. This was Qurratulain Hyder, the Jnanpith-award winning writer and grande dame of Urdu literature, admired by many, including this rev­iewer, and feared in equal mea­­sure for her easily-­frayed pat­i­ence.

And so, the intrepid Jameel Akhtar is...

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