Pakistani novelist and poet Ahmed Ali’s books are a must-read

Drawing inspiration from the two worlds, his writings are interesting

One of the most prolific writers to have emerged from Pakistan is Ahmed Ali. Born in Delhi and having moved to Pakistan after the partition, Ali’s creativity took mixed inspiration from the livings and lives of both newly formed nations. Over years, Ali wrote one of the best fiction stories. He came to be known as a writer in the tradition of realistic fiction. Though he started his literary career writing romantic traditional stories and his first Urdu story was MahawatonkiAikRaat. Here are some of the best books by Ahmed Ali that one must-read.

Twilight in Delhi

This book by Ali is his first novel and was originally published in English by the Hogarth Press in Britain in 1940. Unlike the dreamy narrations, Ali’s novel addresses India’s changing social, political, and cultural climate following colonialism. The plot of the book is set around 1911 to 1919 of Delhi with the author putting through words a vivid picture of old Delhi and its Muslim inhabitants of that time. Through his narration, Ali brings to light the themes of disintegration, degeneration, alienation, gender, and social conflicts. There are also narrations of the downfall of the Mughal emperors, and the following effects of colonialism and imperialism on Indian Muslims. The plot of the film starts at twilight hence the title.


It is also known by the spelling of Angaaray, translated as Embers or Burning Coals. The book is a collection of nine short stories and a one-act play all in Urdu. The contributing writers are SajjadZaheer, Rashid Jahan, Mahmud-uz-Zafar, and of course Ahmed Ali. The book was first published in 1932 and is also considered to be the beginning of the Progressive Writers’ Movement in Indian literature. Since all the writers had studied together in Oxford their ideologies and literary ideas were heavily inspired by the writings of James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, D. H. Lawrence, and Marxist writings. Ali wrote BadalNahinAate or The Clouds Don’t Come and MuhavattonkiEkRaat or A Night of Winter Rain.

The Golden Tradition An Anthology of Urdu Poetry

This book compares the poetry of Islamic India to that of Western poetry of the same period. The book has a work selection from the historically and culturally significant Urdu poems of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Some other Ahmed Ali books are Salamfestschrift – A Collection Of Talks From The Conference On Highlights Of Particle And Condensed Matter Physics, The Black Celts An Ancient African Civilisation In Ireland And Britain, Prison house, England Affric An Ethnological Survey, Al-Qur’an A Contemporary Translation, Of Rats and Diplomats, and Ocean of Night to name a few.

Nirtika Pandita

A follower of Master Oogway, living by his words of Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery and today is a gift, which is why it is called the ‘Present’, I am trying to master the art of now. Keeping that in the center I am combining my professional prowess as a writer and nerves of a gastronaut to conquer the Saha world.
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