Many years ago, I had edited a collection of Urdu stories called simply, Urdu Stories. My intention then, was to present a sampler from the “greats” of Urdu literature. That collection had begun, quite rightly, with Premchand and carried on till modern times. Almost a decade later, I set myself an altogether different task. This time I consciously went looking for the new and the relatively unknown. I called this collection New Urdu Writings: From India and Pakistan.
There were, of course, the stalwarts such as Joginder Paul, Zahida Hina, Intizar Husain and Jeelani Bano. They had to be included precisely because though they had been writing for a fairly long time, they were active writers and had influenced the nai kahani (or the “new story” as it is called by critics) through their efforts. Living in a post-colonised world, they continue to negotiate the demands of their own literary concerns and those of their younger, newer readers. Their work shows how a purity of language can be maintained to a rigorous, almost classical degree and how this language can be moulded to convey new and altogether “modern” concerns.