Musharraf Ali Farooqi

Between Clay and Dust, 2012 Shortlist

Musharraf Ali Farooqi was born in 1968 in Hyderabad, Pakistan. His previous novel, The Story of a Widow (2009), was shortlisted for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature. He is also the highly acclaimed translator of Urdu classics Hoshruba (2009) and The Adventures of Amir Hamza (2007), contemporary Urdu poet Afzal Ahmed Syed’s selected poetry Rococo and Other Worlds (2010) and Urdu writer Syed Muhammad Ashraf’s novel The Beast (2010). His children’s fiction includes The Amazing Moustaches of Moochhander the Iron Man and Other Stories (2011) and the picture book The Cobbler’s Holiday or Why Ants Don’t Wear Shoes (2008).

Musharraf Ali Farooqi’s new novel, Between Clay and Dust, opens with a glimpse of these extraordinary characters in the twilight of their lives. Ustad Ramzi was once the greatest wrestler in the land, famed for his enormous strength and unmatched technique. Young apprentices flocked to his akhara to learn the craft, fans adored him and rival wrestling clans feared his resolve that would never admit defeat. The courtesan Gohar Jan was just as renowned. Celebrated throughout the country for her beauty and the power and melodiousness of her singing, her kotha was thronged by nobles, rich men and infatuated admirers. Their skills are no longer what they once were, new challengers to their eminence have now arisen, their followers have melted away and the adoring crowds are long gone. An immense catastrophe has laid waste to the country; its new inheritors and rulers have no time for the old ways and, stripped of their resources and their powers, Ustad Ramzi and Gohar Jan must face their greatest challenge yet…

Powerful and haunting, Between Clay and Dust is a triumph of storytelling and a poignant exploration of love, honour, redemption and the strength that great souls find to go on when everything is lost.


Aleph, Aleph Book Company

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