5 Kashmiri Writers You Should Read in Lockdown

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As many people have resorted to reading during the present pandemic-induced indoor routine, here’s the list of five authors one should read to understand the Kashmir’s celebrated penmanship.

Rakhshanda Afrin

KASHMIR Valley has seen the emergence of some of the greatest literary luminaries who would go on to influence and inspire a whole lot of generations to contribute to Kashmir’s literature.

As part of progressive writers’ movement, some of these literacy heavyweights would introduce new writing forms, techniques and narrative styles. This creative force wouldn’t only fuel the literary passions in the valley, but also evolve graph of Kashmiri literature in times to come.

However, with Kashmir witnessing a creative boom in English prose and poetry writing, especially in last 30 years, some of these Kashmiri writers took backseat.

Even as some attempts were made to translate their works in English language for young generation to read, and understand their vintage vernacular authors, it seems much more needs to be done to revive the buried pen.

Let’s take a look at a few of these intellectual literary icons.

Dinanath Nadim (1916–1988)

             Dina Nath Nadim

This literary heavyweight recently hogged headlines when Indian Financial Minister, Nirmal Sitharaman, during the budget session, recited a verse from Nadim’s famous poem, Myon Watan (My Country) in Kashmiri. It caused quite a stir on the floor of the house.

Credited with beginning an era of modern Kashmiri poetry, Dinanath “Kaul” Nadim is considered a pioneering literary icon and poet who led the progressive writers’ movement in Kashmir.

Nadim’s poetry saw popular emergence during the political events happening in the valley in 1947.
Throughout his career, he was greatly influenced by communism and many feel the valley’s literary history is incomplete without his mention.

He has penned down several operas and poems. His collection of poems titled- Shihul Kul won him the Sahitya Academy Award in 1980s. This literary icon and his legacy will forever be cherished for years to come.

Akhtar Mohiuddin (1928-2001)

Akhtar Mohiuddin

Considered as one of the finest short story Urdu writers, during his literary career, Mohiuddin penned over fifty short stories in Kashmiri.

He’s acknowledged for writing his characters and plots with universal image and appeal and therefore giving new dimensions and perspectives to Kashmiri literature.

Daud Dag (Disease and Pain), considered to be the first novel written and published in Kashmiri, was authored by Akhtar Mohiuddin where he wrote about the dark lives of the lower middle class.

His writings were mainly about reflections of human nature and provided his readers with thought provoking plots on themes of disparity between poor and the rich and corruption during the post-partition period.

Amin Kamil (1924–2014)

               Amin Kamil

Considered as Kashmir’s ‘Master of Ghazal’, Mohammad Amin Kamil’s poems found a major voice in Kashmir’s literary history.

The influence of the progressive writers’ movement had made him shift his writings from Urdu to Kashmiri primarily.

Kamil is considered as a fearless literary icon from the valley who had written in almost every form of diverse literary works such as Nazm, Ghazal, opera, short story, poems.

As a critic and fiction writer, he also wrote about the painful picture of the Kashmiri problems post-1947 in his literary works.

Kamil is considered as one of the most multifaceted literary luminaries from the region.

Rehman Rahi (1925 – Present)

Rehman Rahi

The sole Kashmiri to be bestowed with Jnanpith, the highest literary award of India, Rahi began his career as a government clerk and, getting closely associated with the progressive writers’ movement, he’s now considered arguably the greatest living Kashmiri poet.

Like Dinanath Nadim, he also has been heavily influenced by Marxist thoughts. Rahi’s literary works also drew influence from the former.

In his poems, Rahi mostly talks about the day to day problems in a commoner’s life and predicament a common Kashmiri undergoes.

Some of his major published works are Sana-Wani Saaz, Sukhok Soda, Kalam-e-Rahi, Nawroz-i-Saba.

Shafi Shauq (1950 – Present)

      Shafi Shauq

Renowned poet and critic, Mohammed Shafi Shauq is from modern day Kashmir, who definitely has been credited with redefining the origin of Kashmiri language.

As a literary heavyweight, Shauq believes that Kashmiri is a different language (than any South Asian language) deriving its origin from Greek-Latin languages rather than Sanskirt or any Asian language as commonly believed.

A former University of Kashmir professor, Shauq has compiled and written Kaesher Lugaat, a complete dictionary of Kashmiri language which is considered as the most accomplished work in Kashmir language.

He has authored, edited and translated over forty-seven books in Kashmiri, English, Urdu and Hindi. Prof. Shauq has received several National and State awards like the Best Book Award (1982), Sahitya Akademi Award in Creative Writing (2006), Bharti Bhasha Saman Award (CIIL, 2007), Sahitya Akademi Translation Award (2007), Best Teacher Award (2009) and Ahad Zargar Award (2011).

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