Intizar Husain


Intizar Husain (1923–2016) has been called one of the greatest writers in the Urdu language, and Pakistan’s preeminent chronicler of change. His voice of compassion and insight is much needed, not only in his troubled homeland but wherever English-speaking readers know about Pakistan only through the mass media. Born in 1925 in Dibai, India, Husain migrated to Pakistan in 1947. His epic novel of the Partition, Basti, was shortlisted for the 2013 Man Booker International Literary Prize and was recently republished in the New York Review of Books Classics series. His honors include the 2014 French Officier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and the Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the 2012 Lahore Literary Festival. He passed away in Pakistan in 2016.

“Son, have you gone mad? I tell you, we should not leave this place. How long can we move like nomads with our pots and pans from one place to another?” Bu Jan had gradually reconciled herself to the place that she had earlier called a wilderness. But I had lost interest in it.

“No, Bu Jan! We’ll not live in this house anymore. This Barkat Ilahi is a man without any grace.”

“Bete,” Bu Jan sighed. “There is no grace left in the world now. Besides, why should we bother about that wretch? We’ll remain huddled in our own corner.”

“By the way, I have already rented another house.”

“OK. As you wish. I was only concerned about your troubles. I am very old now. Who will do the packing and cart the luggage?”

“Everything will be taken care of. You only have to give instructions. We’ll move in the morning.”

“Ai hi, you should’ve taken some time. Such haste is not good.”

“Bu Jan, once we have decided to leave, why delay?”

“You seem to be possessed.”

Yes, I was possessed. How could I explain to Bu Jan that in the morning men will arrive to cut down the trees and I wanted to leave before that calamity?


Some of my favorite people on earth are in this book,
Dear writers and grand spirits.

Annie Dillard