Qurratulain Hyder


Celebrated diva of Urdu fiction. She was at her best in writing about the upper crust of society and the cataclysmic changes that political and economic upheavals have caused in their lives. Writing from an early age at a time when novel had yet to strike roots as a serious genre in the poetry-oriented world of Urdu literature, Ms Hyder purged Urdu novel of its obsession with fantasy, romance and frivolous realism. A prolific writer, Ms Hyder authored a dozen novels and novellas, several collections of short stories and has done a significant amount of translation of classics. Aag Ka Darya (River of Fire), her magnum opus, is considered a landmark novel that explored the vast sweep of time and history. If gleaned together her nuggets of information about the culture and customs of Muslims of the subcontinent will make her the only social historian in Urdu. She served as a guest lecturer at the universities of California, Chicago, Wisconsin, and Arizona and was managing editor of the magazine, Imprint, Mumbai (1964-68), and member of the editorial staff of the Illustrated Weekly of India (1968-75). She received India's highest literary award, the Jnanpith Award, in 1989 for her novel, 'Aakhir-e-Shab ke Hamsafar' (Travellers Unto the Night). Other awards included the Sahitya Akademi Award (1967), Soviet Land Nehru Award (1969), Ghalib Award (1985), Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan by the Government of India for her outstanding contribution to Urdu literature. Born in Aligarh and known as 'Annie aapa' to her admirer, Qurratulain was the daughter of the famous writer, Sajjad Haider Yaldram and her mother, Nazr Zahra, also a novelist. Ms Hyder migrated to Pakistan in 1947, but soon left for England and returned to India in 1951. She passed away following complications from her old breathing problem and was laid to rest at Jamia Millia Islamic cemetery in Delhi, where she once taught Urdu literature as professor of the Khan Abdul Gaffer Khan Chair.

Compiler: M. Nauman Khan / Ghulam Mohiuddin

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