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Between Clay and Dust

  • Publication Date: September 2, 2014
  • ISBN: 9781554812073 / 1554812070
  • 240 pages; 5" x 7½"

Free Reading Guide

Ustad Ramzi was once the greatest wrestler in the land, famed for his strength and unmatched technique. Young apprentices flocked to his akhara to learn his 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 of her singing, her kotha was thronged by nobles, rich men, and infatuated admirers.

Musharraf Ali Farooqi’s latest novel presents these extraordinary characters in the twilight of their lives. Their skills are no longer what they once were, new challengers to their eminence have risen, and the adoring crowds and followers are long gone. An immense catastrophe has laid waste to the country; its new inheritors have no time for the old ways. Stripped of their resources and their old 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 all is lost.

“[I]ts richness in capturing a culture at the moment of expiry is the stuff of epics . . . timelessness, sorrow, and so much emotional delicacy.” — Quill and Quire starred review

“Set in an unnamed city after the partition of India and Pakistan, Farooqi’s crisp, elegiac novel… introduces the reader to a subculture of wrestlers and courtesans whose way of life is fading.” — Publishers Weekly starred review

“There is a bell-like clarity to Farooqi’s delineation of his characters, his slow unraveling of their motivations and desires . . . This is a quietly affecting book, with a profound understanding of tragedy; that what happens to us is as much a function of how we respond to events as the events themselves.” — The Sunday Guardian

Between Clay and Dust is a tale that wrestles with themes of rectitude and retribution, pride and redemption, grief and guilt, love and loss.” — The Asian Age

“A privileged peek into the mind of the Pahalwan and Courtesan, the subcontinent’s most intriguing symbols of romance. Storytelling at its best.” — Naseeruddin Shah

Man Asian Literary Prize, 2013 (short-listed)

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