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Land Lust (Short Stories)

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Item Code: NAV356
Author: Joginder Paul
Publisher: Niyogi Books
Language: English
Edition: 2019
ISBN: 9789386906809
Pages: 144
Other Details 8.50 X 5.50 inch
Weight 300 gm
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Book Description
About the Author

Joginader Paul (1925-2016) was born in Sialkot (now in Pakistan) in the well-known Urdu journal Saqi in 1945, while his first book of short stories in Urdu, Dharti ka Kaal, was published in 1962. The partition of the country resulted in his migration to Ambala as a refugee. His marriage led to another migration – to Kenya, where he taught English, throughout expressing in his stories the angst of being in exile. Back in India in 1965, he was principal of a college in Aurangabad, Maharashtra, for another fourteen years before coming to settle in Delhi for full-time writing.

Joginder Paul published over thirteen collections of short stories, including Khula, Khodu Baba ka Magbara and Bastian, Amongst his novels are Ek Boond Lahoo Ki, Nadeed, Paar Pare, and Khwabro. He published four collections of flash fiction (afsaanche), a genre with which he is known to have enriched Urdu fiction significantly. A number of his novels and short stories have been translated into Hindi, English and other languages in India and abroad. His fiction books have been previously published many times in English.

Paul is a recipient of many important literary honours, including the SAARC Lifetime Award, Iqbal Samman, Urdu Academy Award, All India Bahadur Shah Zafar Award, Shiromani Award, and Ghalib Award. He also honoured at Qatar with an international award for contributing to creative writing in Urdu. His fiction has received a lot of critical acclaim, and many Urdu journals in India and Pakistan have published special issues on him. His fiction has been translated into many languages in India and abroad.

Sukrita Paul Kumar, a noted poet and critic, was born and brought up in Kenya. She held the Aruna Asaf Ali Chair at Delhi University till recently. Formerly, Advanced Study, Shimla, she is also Fellow of the prestigious International Writing Programme, lowa(USA) and Hong Kong Baptist University. Honorary faculty at Durrell Centre at Corfu (Greece), she is a recipient of many prestigious fellowships and residencies. She has to her credit several collections of poems in English, many translated into Indian and foreign languages. Her critical writing are many on partition, modern Indian fiction, and gender. Her latest translations include Blind (novel) and Nude (a collection of poems)." A guest editor of journals such as Manoa (Hawaii, she has also held solo exhibitions of her paintings. Many of Sukrita’s poems emerged from her experience of working with homeless people and tsunami victims.

An author, translator, and editor Vandana R Singh was given the Award of Recognition for Outstanding Contribution to Literature by the Chandigarh Sahitya Akademi. Her literary published earlier. She has authored several books on Communication Skills and ELT for Oxford University Press. She has been consultant editor for several UN organisations and textbook developer for NCERT & NIOS. A PhD in Indian writings in English, she has been Associate Professor of English at GCG, Punjab University, and has worked as a bilingual teacher for the Manchester Education Committee, UK. A keen gardener and bonsal enthusiast, she views translation as a social responsibility contributing to building cross-cultural bridges. She is fascinated by words – their origin and evolution.


Soon after the Partition of the country and just after getting out of the refugee camp in 1948 at Ambala, when Joginder Paul was a young twenty three-year-old writer, he married a girl from Kenya on the condition that they would settle in Kenya. A refugee that he was anyway, he migrated with her to a country which was still in the clutches of the British rule while, ironically, his own country India had just won its hard-earned freedom. Pained by the social inequality and racial discrimination that he witnessed in everyday life there, he felt like a complete outsider. The Asian community around him seemed to accept that social reality as a given and, in fact, participated fully in its perpetuation. He considered himself ‘in exile’, and longed to get back to his homeland from the day he landed there.

The stories in this volume emerged from his anguish and sensitive observation of the lives of Asians living in Kenya, especially in their relationship/non- relationship with Africans. Originally called Dbarti ka Kaal, Land Lust is a collection of eleven stories that capture the spirit and social ambience of Indians living in pre-independence, colonised Kenya. The presence of African characters in these stories, in ‘a way, asserts the dignity of the black people otherwise invisible in urban social domain there.

The Kenya of 1950s was a multiracial society where the British, Asians, and Africans co-existed in a harshly xenophobic environment. The lure of money, ‘development project’ of African cities, the beautiful weather and the ‘highlands’ drew people from all over to Kenya. The stories in this volume unravel the sensitivity of the author to the incipient racism and the operative colonial hierarchies, as also the tussle between nature and ‘development’.

Jambo Rafiqui, one of Paul’s most brilliant stories in this book, deftly explores the naivety of the locals while also giving us a glimpse of the social pecking order, complicated as it is by the presence of Asians who hang in an uneasy balance between the black and the white. Here and elsewhere too what quietly emerges is the belief in the superiority of one’s own race that runs uniformly across the spectrum — it’s a different matter that only the colonisers overtly declare themselves to be so.

The dynamics between different races and cultural groups takes on thought-provoking overtones when we see Indians having absolutely no doubt about their own superior culture, and ruing over the fact that there is no ‘life’ in Kenya and no intelligent people to have a decent conversation with. This coming from people with a two hundred-year-long history of being colonised themselves gives a glimpse of a knotted world where the oppressed waste no time in reinventing themselves as oppressors. Most Indian characters seem to suffer from complete amnesia regarding the recent Partition of their own country — a haphazard decision perpetrated by the very same imperialists with whom they tend to mindlessly align themselves in another colonised landscape. And so, we are face-to-face with a tangled, convoluted world where racism doesn’t come only in shades of white and black but is a knotted web with liberal sprinkling of brown. Interestingly, and sadly, most of these themes are still alive today. The context of the stories is historical but the themes are as relevant today as then.

While in one of the stories young African boys are asked to dive into a killer lake for a coin by an Asian family, in another story, Jaroge — an enthusiastic and well-meaning African employee — becomes a victim of institutional racism when he is abruptly fired from his job.

Joginder Paul’s fiction does not ignore any of the harsh aspects of the social reality in Kenya then — be it racism by the British government, in educational institutions, by farm owners, businessmen, or staid homemakers. Paul can see through it all, and create a world around these themes for the readers to get a peek at the bleak, deeper reality under the superficial cheer of a large class of people in Kenya in mid-twentieth century. Irrespective of where one was situated in the social ladder or positioned in a given power structure, most people seem to be content with the state of affairs.

Through these stories, Joginder Paul’s keen eye and artful storytelling brings alive an empathy for fellow human beings, evoking the reader’s capability to see beyond opaque exteriors. This is something as desirable today as earlier when the stories were written. The social follies, political foibles, and oppressive power structures continue to exist and percolate into everyday lives of ordinary people. While the stories in Land Lust offer a poignant slice of colonial history of lives led in the pre- independence multiracial Kenya, we believe they bring to the fore themes of universal appeal across cultures and time.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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