‘This passionate, often searing novel has the tactile force of a great sculpture: what we think of as the inferiority of the self and the otherness of the world are brought together in torque after torque of perception and dream, revealing the growth of a woman, her desire, her rage, her sexual longing in a crowded world, in a time filled with tumultuous historical change. In The Crooked Line, Ismat Chughtai has given us a masterwork.’—Meena Alexander, author of Fault Lines: A Memoir
The youngest in a large but indifferent family, Shaman is a lonely child who convinces herself that she is unlovable. Her adolescent fears and desires grow even as she does: from unruly child to diffident student leader, then idealistic school principal, and finally bitter wife to an Irish Army Captain with whom she—a staunch nationalist—is fundamentally incompatible. Although able to form some deep friendships, Shaman’s sexual and romantic passion remains unfulfilled, deeply impacting her sense of self. The social mirrors the personal, and as her beloved Hindustan struggles towards independence, so Shaman too gropes for some unifying narrative that will help her make sense of an unhappy life.
The Crooked Line by Ismat Chughtai reveals the core of the female psyche. She exposes all in this rich and powerful novel, a triumph of Urdu literature.