Qurratulain Hyder: A trendsetter in Urdu fiction
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Qurratulain Hyder: A trendsetter in Urdu fiction

Even just the mention of Urdu Literature forces us to recall the many works of celebrated authors such as Bano Qudsia, Rashid Jahan, Ismat Chughtai. Among the list one also finds the name of Qurratulain Hyder.

Marking her death anniversary on August 21, we take the opportunity to have a glance at her life journey. 

Qurratulain Hyder was born in Aligarh on January 20, 1927 to Nazar Sajjad Hyder and Sajjad Hyder “Yildirim”. Growing up in an illustrious, literarily inclined, westernised and liberal familial setup, Hyder was a postgraduate in English from the University of Lucknow and trained in art and music. Later she went on to study modern English literature from Cambridge University, UK.

Popularly known as Ainie Apa, Ainie Khala or simply Ainie among relatives, friends and acquaintances, Hyder was warm and friendly but scathingly candid and vocal about her innermost feelings and ideals.

A trendsetter in Urdu fiction, she began writing at a time when the novel was yet to take deep roots as a serious genre in the poetry-oriented world of Urdu literature. A prolific writer, she has so far written some 12 novels and novellas, four collections of short stories and has done a significant amount of translation of classics.

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Some of her novels include Mere Bhi Sanamkhane (My Temples, Too); Safina-e-Gham-e Dil (Ship of Sorrows [forthcoming]); Aag Ka Darya (River of Fire); Aahkir-e-Shab ke Humsafar (Fireflies in the Mist); Gardish-e-rang-e-Chaman (untranslated); and Chandni Begum (Chandni Begum).

She was one of the editors of Imprint magazine, Mumbai; later she worked for many years as a member of the editorial staff of the Illustrated Weekly of India.

She received the Jnanpith Award in 1989, and was given the Padma Shri by the Government of India for her outstanding contribution to Urdu literature.

Qurratulain Hyder died on August 21, 2007, in Noida, New Delhi, after a protracted lung illness.

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