Understanding Transitions

R.S. Sharma’s work is marked by a particular and long-term commitment to both his politics and history. The essays in this volume address many themes: from colonial historiography to nationalist utopias; from issues of methodology to the mode of production; from marking transitions to a detailed study of social relations. Taken together, they provide both a starting point to discuss his work and an indication of the range of his interests.

Of Separations, Squalor and Self-expression

Sikeena Karmali’s ‘Chahar Bagh: The Mulberry Courtesan’ is the longest in this collection of twenty-two stories. Like Tabish Khair’s
‘Night of 16th January, 1955,’ Uzma Aslam Khan’s ‘From Trespassing’ and Mohsin Hamid’s ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist,’ it is an extract out of a novel, although this one was awaiting publication when this book appeared in print. Its length would justify the present compilation being called Chahar Bagh and Other Stories.

Performing Women

Is an editor of an anthology of essays anything more than a compiler? Is she (or he) merely expected to read widely on the subject, string to-gether whatever essays are available (and ideally unpublished), slap on an Introduction in which the contents of the essays are summarized, and dispatch it to the publisher? When I was working in the publishing world, an editor was virtually expected to stamp her personality on the anthology, infusing it with—if I may use the word—a vision.