Book Title: Azadi
Author: Chaman Nahal
LIFE in Sialkot goes on with a hum, until the fateful news arrives. And like smoke it lingers and begins to settle into homes that have sheltered generations. Within days, reality dawns, terrible passions are unleashed, and lives are rent asunder. In Chaman Nahal’s intense novel, one encounters the full force of the great tragedy of Partition.
‘Azadi’ was first published in 1975 in the United States and won rave reviews, with The New York Times writing, almost prophetically, about the book: “A poignant and moving narrative... full of lessons that will never be learnt.”
The Tribune had called it “a good illustration of painstaking and painful documenation”. Nahal, formerly Professor of English at Delhi University and Fellow, Churchill College, Cambridge University, had wanted to show how Partition had destroyed the harmony that had prevailed for centuries. His own sister, Kartar Devi, had perished in the riots. It is to her that the novel is dedicated. ‘Azadi’ has been translated into 10 languages and won Nahal the Sahitya Akademi Award. He passed away in 2013.