The Mirror of Wonders and Other Tales


Author: Syed Rafiq Hussain
Translated by Saleem Kidwai

9789380403090 | PB | pp. 194 | 2013 | Yoda Press

The Mirror of Wonders is a collection of quiet yet profound tales in which the author explores various emotions from the view point of animals.

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The plight of a hungry tigress and her cubs; a dog’s undying love for his friend; a domesticated nilgai lost in the woods; the wide ambit of a cow’s maternity; the pangs of separation felt by a monkey mother and her child: such emotions are explored in this unusual collection of short stories peopled by a variety of animals. Originally written in Urdu by an important but little-known early twentieth-century writer, Syed Rafiq Hussain, the stories use satire to highlight the ignominy of human conduct from the vantage point of the animals. Hussain combines keen observation of animal behaviour with deep empathy, even as he brings the Terai region of the Himalayan foothills alive in these quiet yet profound tales. Kidwai’s deft and nuanced translation in English retains the liveliness of Hussain’s idiomatic Urdu and introduces a new generation of readers to a gifted and deeply philosophical writer.

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Syed Rafiq Hussain
Translator: Saleem Kidwai




Yoda Press





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About the Contributors:

Syed Rafiq Husain was an Urdu writer, poet and critic. A challenge issued by his younger sister and daughter spurred him to write in Urdu, a language he could barely read. For someone who claimed to have read ‘four or five’ Urdu books, his stories established his reputation as a prose stylist and master storyteller; the fact that this reputation rested on the eight stories included in the collection that, incidentally, comprised his entire oeuvre, is no small feat.

Saleem Kidwai taught history at Ramjas College, Delhi University for many years. He is the co-editor of Same-Sex Love in India: Readings from Literature and History (2000), and has also translated several works of fiction and non-fiction from Urdu to English, such as Malka Pukhraj’s memoir, Song Sung True (2003). Currently, he is an independent scholar based in Lucknow.


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