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Phoenix Fled

Attia Hosain

2 Reviews

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Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)

Attia Hosain is one of the most influential Indian writers of the twentieth century. In these beautifully wrought stories, she depicts characters who are caught between worlds and cultures.

'There is so much to love and admire in these stories - their understanding of heartbreak, their attention to affection and love across many divides' KAMILA SHAMSIE

'Listen to me, child. You will be a woman soon and must behave well and with modesty. The Kazi will ask you three times whether you will marry Kalloo Mian. Now don't you be shameless, like these modern girls, and shout gleefully "Yes". Be modest and cry softly and say "Hoon".'

A marriage is arranged between a little servant girl and a middle-aged cook with an opium habit; an idealistic political worker faces disillusionment; a man returns from years studying in England to a wife he scarcely knows; a conventional bride has her first encounter with her husband's 'emancipated' friends.

Telling of the lives of servants and children, of conflict between the old traditions and new ways, and exploring the human repercussions of the Muslim/Hindu divide, these twelve stories present a moving and vivid picture of life in India in the mid-twentieth century. To each episode Attia Hosain brings a superb imaginative understanding and a sense of the poignancy of the smallest of human dramas.

Attia Hosain published only two books, but her writing has influenced generations of writers. Discover Sunlight on a Broken Column, Hosain's acclaimed only novel - a coming-of-age story set against the turbulent background of Partition, also published in Virago Modern Classics.

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Praise for Phoenix Fled

  • There is so much to love and admire in these stories - their understanding of heartbreak, their attention to affection and love across many divides, their intelligence about power structures, their vividly drawn characters, their sly humour. Long after I finished reading, I found myself still recalling the tiny moments, so beautifully rendered, that made them come to life

  • Hosain's books stir with life and the play of sunlight and rain. To read them is as if one had parted a curtain or opened a door, and strayed into the past ... Hosain's greatest strength lies in her ability to draw a rich, full portrait of her society - ignoring none of its many faults and cruelties

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Attia Hosain

Attia Hosain (1913-1998) was born in Lucknow and educated at La Martiniere and Isabella Thoburn College, blending an English liberal education with that of a traditional Muslim household where she was taught Persian, Urdu and Arabic. She was the first woman to graduate from among the feudal 'Taluqdari' families into which she was born. Influenced in the 1930s by the nationalist movement and the Progressive Writers' Group in India, she became a journalist, broadcaster and writer. In 1947 she moved to England and presented her own women's programme on the BBC Eastern Service for many years, and appeared on television and the West End stage. She is the author of Phoenix Fled (1953) and Sunlight on a Broken Column (1961).

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