5.04.2011

A Brief introduction to the Novels of Khwaja Ahmad Abbas

The majority of the material for this post is taken from Contemporary Novelists, 3rd Ed., Edited by James Vinson, St. Martin's Press, New York, 1982

Khwaja Ahmad Abbas (1914-1987)


There's only eight books of K.A. Abbas cataloged in LibraryThing (five or six different works).  He's virtually forgotten in the United States, though still revered in Indian literary circles.

On highbrow literary critics in India, Abbas said they "have sometimes sneeringly labelled my novels and short stories as 'mere journalese'. The fact that most of them are inspired by aspects of the contemporary historical reality, as sometimes chronicled in the press, is sufficient to put them beyond the pale of literary creation.

"I have no quarrel with the critics. Maybe I am an unredeemed journalist and reporter, masquerading as a writer of fiction. But I have always believed that while the inner life of man undoubtedly is, and should be, the primary concern of literature, this inner personal life impinges upon the life of the community -- and of humanity -- at every critical turning point of human experience.

"'No man is an island...' said John Donne, and one may add that even if he was, no island is free from the inroads of the sea, as no man is free from the impact of social forces and the life around him."

I decided I liked this Mr. Abbas, better known globally in his day as a screenwriter and film director, based on the above quote alone.

Here's his novels:

Tomorrow is Ours!: a Novel of India Today.  (1943)
Defeat for death,: A Story without Names (1947)
Not all lies! (Privately printed, 1949)
Inquilab (1955)
When Night Falls (1968)
Mera Naam Joker (1970)
Maria (1972)
Boy Meets Girl (1973)
Bobby (1973)
Distant Dream (1975)

More on Kwaja Ahmad Abbas, including some criticism of his novels by S.C. Harrex, author of The Fire and the Offering: The English Language Novel of India, coming soon ...

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