A man scours the town he left fifty years ago for some modest evidence of past joys. Javed, who has returned to Lahore from East Pakistan, won’t speak of what he witnessed in his time away. In her dreams, an old woman boards a train full of dead ancestors. A sage who cannot control his anger must seek out a butcher for redemption. Mahaban, once the home of monkeys, is now a city filled with human beings. Sheherzad, who once told Emperor Shaharyar one thousand and one stories, is now an old woman who has forgotten her fantastical yarns.
The fifteen stories in The Death of Sheherzad ably represent Intizar Husain’s oeuvre, defying narrative tradition and exploring the past, specifically the Partition of India, as a means of unraveling the present. He imaginatively revisits a syncretic, tolerant, pluralistic past to analyze why the tide turned so irreversibly. Questioning everything—faith, violence, society—Husain probes the horrors of Partition in a manner as oblique as it is trenchant. Imbued with dark wit and literary brilliance, these stories at once shock, agitate, and entertain.