“Fiction debut of the year”: Harper Collins publishes Kashmiri writer Feroz Rather’s novel The Night of Broken Glass

Rather is currently a doctoral student of Creative Writing at Florida State University.

Majid Maqbool
Srinagar, Publish Date: Jun 24 2018 1:14AM | Updated Date: Jun 24 2018 2:29AM
“Fiction debut of the year”: Harper Collins publishes Kashmiri writer Feroz Rather’s novel The Night of Broken GlassFile Photo

Kashmiri writer Feroz Rather’s debut novel-in-stories, The Night of Broken Glass, has been published by Harper Collins India, the publisher pitching it as their “lead literary fiction debut of the year”.

“Feroz Rather provides the readers a glimpse of the courage and daily life of its people as it is a dirge to a paradise lost, a paean to the beauty of Kashmir,” reads a press release from the publisher, calling the book as “one of the first fiction books on Kashmir dealing with the Insurgency.”

“Through a series of interconnected stories, within which the same characters move in and out, the author weaves a tapestry of the horror Kashmir has come to represent,” Harper Collins notes, adding that while over the last three decades reams have been written in human rights documents, academic theses, non-fiction accounts of the turmoil, and government and military reports, the effects of the violence on its inhabitants have rarely been rendered in fiction as in The Night of Broken Glass. 

“His visceral imagery explores the psychological impact of the turmoil on its natives – Showkat who is made to wipe off graffiti on the wall of his shop with his tongue; Rosy, a progressive, jeans-wearing ‘upper-caste’ girl who is in love with ‘lower-caste’ Jamshid; Jamshid’s father Gulam, a cobbler by profession who never finds his son’s bullet-riddled body; the ineffectual Nadim ‘Pasture’ who proclaims himself a full-fledged rebel; even the barbaric and tyrannical Major S who has to contend with his own nightmares.”

Rather is currently a doctoral student of Creative Writing at Florida State University. He reviews have appeared in prestigious publications like The Millions,The Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, and his most recent essay, ‘Poet in Srinagar’, appeared in the anthology Mad Heart, Be Brave: On the Poetry of Agha Shahid Ali published by Michigan University Press. The Night of Broken Glass is his first book.

“It has been many years of thinking but the actual writing happened from the summer of 2015 to the summer of 2017 while I was attending the doctoral program at Florida State University,” Rather told Greater Kashmir. “I really did not plan the final form The Night of Broken Glass took. I wrote stories and they had major and minor characters. In the parts that came later, I got into the minor characters and wrote entire stories from their points of view that gave the book a strong semblance of the novel. It was a narrative adventure that I enjoyed and it helped me proliferate multiple internal worlds while going back to the same characters and plot lines.”

The book has received advance praise from established writers. “A haunting and mesmerizing debut that announces the arrival of a major new talent,” acclaimed writer Siddhartha Deb writes in his blurb for the book. Kashmiri novelist Mirza Waheed calls the novel an “extraordinary, haunting debut,” praising it in his blurb: “The dazzling characters that inhabit The Night of Broken Glass will stay with you for years after you’ve finished reading this stunning collection. Bravo!” Kashmiri journalist and writer Basharat Peer calls it “a work of terrifying and hypnotic beauty.”

While revising his novel, Rather said that he religiously read James Joyce’s Dubliners, getting an entire story about a somber woman from Pampore— “The Summer of 2010”—from Joyce.  “If there is one book that I’ll read again and again, if there is one book that I’d want every girl and boy to read in Kashmir, it is Joyce’s Dubliners,” he said, adding that the slim book is enormous in terms of its emotional range. “Joyce really realizes the intricate psychologies of his characters. The mood also constantly somehow reminds of what is somber in the disposition of Kashmir.”

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