Urdu Project

hoshruba HOSHARUBA: The World’s First Magical Fantasy Epic (1883-1893)
Hoshruba: The Land and the Tilism (Book One)
Author: Muhammad Husain Jah
Translator: Musharraf Ali Farooqi
Price: US$24.99
Publisher: Urdu Project
First Publication: May 02, 2009
Format: Paperbound
516 pp
13-digit ISBN: 978-0-9780695-5-1
10-digit ISBN: 0978069552
Book website: www.hoshruba.com



“…an exhausting delight…remorselessly crowded with incident and imagery…an epic epic fantasy…it knocks just about anything else you can think of into a cocked hat…Its pleasures are almost entirely immediate and local to whatever part of the story you happen to be reading…in one sense, the bloodthirstiest book I have ever read…[Hoshruba] is never less than engaging, when it does simply stop, even though we were forewarned, it’s a bit of a shock. You emerge, blinking, back into the world, because the truth of Hoshruba is that, like all good fantasies, it is itself a tilism: it infuses these inanimate pages with magic.” – Niall Harrison
Torque Control – Blog of the editors of Vector magazine, August 26, 2009

“Musharraf Ali Farooqi’s wonderful translation of Tilism-e Hoshruba—an Urdu literary phantasmagoria of flying magic claws, bloody rivers and silver gardens—is an important literary and translation event. Prepare to find place in your bookshelf for it next to classics such as One Thousand and One Nights, The Adventures of Amir Hamza and Chandrakanta. Narrative orgies all, with daredevil storytelling, they span thousands of pages, hundreds of characters, worlds and things threatening to tear the veil of banality that we moderns have lent to the world…The magic of Urdu seeps into the stories, the language is neither wordy nor bland but richly allusive and taut…The descriptions of beauty and war resonate with the erotic charge of Bhartrihari’s poems and fierce scenes in The Iliad…At a moment in world history (if such a thing does indeed exist!) when the most ignorant and obscurantist views about Islam are bandied about as knowledge, it is a relief to bear witness to aspects (the ludic, the magical and the erotic) of an Islamic imagination that find no place within contemporary representations of Islam.” – Moyukh Chatterjee
Tehelka Magazine, Vol 6, Issue 33, Dated August 22, 2009

“Hoshruba is so unique that one can certainly say it is the first (and possibly only one) of its kind. An important feature that distinguishes Hoshruba as a fantasy from other epics that contain magical elements (the Arthurian legends, for example) is that the action takes place almost completely within the magical realm…It is a battle of human wits and technology against a magical world that draws power directly from the primal forces of nature…the story creates ever more intricate designs and labyrinths as it progresses. Rather than a simple plot-driven story that moves forward, the narrative architecture of the epic is built by throwing out simultaneous threads that loop and interconnect, with every turn providing a new excuse for a linguistic spectacle…while Hoshruba’s plots and patterns are intriguing, it is really the language itself that creates the magical force of this epic; language that speeds ahead, stops suddenly, twists from the sublime to the ridiculous and back again…It is the language of experience rather than of explanation, and one can only hold on and ride as it ricochets from background to foreground, in and out of characters heads, changing point of view constantly like a roving camera…Not content with the visual, the language also creates worlds of sound, smell, taste, and touch. Because everything is described excessively in thousands, even millions, images seem to reach into infinity and stretch the edges of the imagination…We must be grateful to Musharraf Ali Farooqi’s verbal sorcery for the transmutation of this unique narrative masterpiece into its magic double in English. Farooqi’s language is richly expressive and vibrant with a humorous light touch that pervades the work like the fresh winds of Princess Bahar…Unlike much fantasy literature, the epic does not offer a world that mirrors our own, providing morals and lessons like the grimly serious Tolkien trilogy. What Hoshruba does offer is something much more rare: a chance to lose oneself in an alternate reality built of untamed language that has been freed from any obligations to adhere to moral, logical, or didactic constraints.” –Anna C. Oldfield
Annual of Urdu Studies, Vol 24, 2009

“A magnificent translation of what was once thought untranslatable, full of humour, verve and just the right amount of old-style language to capture the legendary world of Hamza…a tour de force of Indian literature…Farooqi has done a great service by making it accessible to English readers.” — Gillian Wright
(India Today, August 7, 2009)

“Musharraf Ali Farooqi’s English translation of the Urdu classic Tilism-e Hoshruba, is a service to both the languages…There is nothing as colourful, racy, imaginative in Eastern or Western literature. True that there are two exquisite works, Betaal Pacchisi and Katha Charit Sagar, but they are not without their overt moral message. Tilism-e Hoshruba has as much metaphysics as them, but has more magic and wonder and much less moralising. In the real sense of the word, it is entertaining and brings to mind the Hindi word “manoranjan”, which means painting the mind. And since painting involves light, it would logically entail illumination. The epic effortlessly combines the acquisition of knowledge with sparkling entertainment.” – Partha Chatterjee (Express Buzz:  Sept 11, 2009)

“Musharraf Ali Farooqi’s Hoshruba, a translation of Tilism-e Hoshruba, the mid-nineteenth century Urdu epic fantasy by Muhammad Husain Jah (d. 1899) has sorcerers, beautiful women, demons, kettle-drummers, paradisiacal gardens, beautiful women, lovers, wars, poem fights, beautiful women, magical devices, daring escapes, bazaar scenes, beautiful women, and of course, the promise of sequels with more of these very things…[Emperor of Sorcerers] Afrasiyab could hold his own even in comparison with other great villains of epic fantasy. He has a deep faith in words; Afrasiyab consults books for the right action and his response to personnel problems leans more towards inspirational epistles than beheadings. He is sensibly cautious of his wife, the formidable Heyrat, and cautiously sensible about his wife’s sister, Bahar. He may be in love with Bahar, but it’s in a classy, ghazal-and-terraced-gardens kind of way. When he weeps, he sheds genuine roly-poly tears, not the fake oily ones minor villains like to affect. Afrasiyab is going to lose, and he knows he’s going to lose because the books tell him he’s going to lose—and yet. Fantasies become epics, I think, when their villains acquire this state of grace. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings falls short in this regard because its chief villain is an abstraction, not a living breathing person. In contrast, the Ramayana is an epic because its great villain, Ravana, has enough personality to fill ten people. Here too, despite all its narrative flaws, Tilism-e Hoshruba is that scarce thing, a genuine epic….Borges credits Chesterton with the insight that FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat was “both an elusive melody and an enduring inscription.” So too with this book. What eludes us is a forgotten piece of our tessellated selves, and Farooqi’s magnificent effort to retrieve it will endure.” – Anil Menon (Strange Horizons: June 01, 2009)

“To read [Hoshruba] is to be drawn back into a world of source magic, the original stuff of today’s fantasy sagas, and to be seduced by its never-ending profusion of sorcerers, battles and red-lipped beauties…Serious gamers will love the Hoshruba—especially those who’ve cut their teeth on longrunning role-playing games (RPG), where the richness of the landscape and the inventiveness of the authors matter more than plot or character. [Farooqi’s] telling of how [the storytellers] wrote [Hoshruba] is nothing short of miraculous. “Only an infidel would doubt that it happened in this manner,” he says. I would add that only an infidel would be churlish enough to resist the temptation of entering the tilism, at least once.” – Nilanjana S. Roy (Business Standard: June 16, 2009)

“Farooqi captures all the colour and drama of the original Urdu dastans…For sheer storytelling skill and narrative power, the dastans are hard to beat, and Farooqi’s thick tome, an ideal entry point to one of the greatest stories ever told, will be a revelation for non-Urdu speakers….The real challenge of translating the dastans lies in the fact that they were meant to be recited, and heard. This is where Farooqi’s translation stands out, by managing to capture the cadences and high flown eloquence of the original, without diluting its irony or humour. Hoshruba is a labour of love, and one that makes you happy that there are 23 more volumes of the stuff still to come.”
Taran N. Khan (Daily News and Analysis: July 12, 2009)

%d bloggers like this: