Monday, November 7, 2011

Book Review - Neither Night Nor Day

Title:          Neither Night Nor Day
Edited By:  Rakhshanda Jalil
Publisher:   Harper Collins India
ISBN:        978-81-7223-691-5
MRP:         Rs 250/-

‘Unputdownable’, ‘awesome’ and ‘shaking’, these are some of the adjectives I would use to describe my latest read, ‘Neither Night Nor Day’. It is an anthology of 13 short stories by women writers from Pakistan. However, the collection is edited by our very own Rakhshanda Jalil, the Media and Cultural Coordinator of Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.

These short stories basically deal with the lives of women in Pakistan. This book had been short listed for 'The Commonwealth Writers Prize 2008'. Pakistan’s image for most of us is that of a society very conservative and stifling, suffocating for women in general, but this work dispels that impression. Women now have opportunities to write and to express opinions on a much wider and larger platform .

The first story ‘Plans in Pink’ was not so interesting, but was a good read anyway.
The second, story, ‘The Tongue’ is set in a fictional land where everyone is mute for their tongues are cut as per the orders of the ruler but who fails to sever the will of the people.
The third one ‘She Who Went Looking For Butterflies’ is set within a time frame of a few hours when a lady waits for her execution. Somber and well written, it will definitely touch you somewhere.
The next story, ‘Leaves’ talks about the reunion of childhood buddies in their old age, and is a nice read.
Then comes the story from which the title of the book is taken, ‘Neither Night Nor Day’. This is my favorite as well. Amazingly written, this tells the story of a Paki immigrant in London and her deep set feelings of insecurity and identity crisis. This is a must read.
'The Breast’ talks about the brutality towards women in a Pakistani village. This story will definitely make you feel blessed and you will never curse your family or society again!

The next story is actually an excerpt form a novel by Sorayya Khan. The story ‘Five Queen’s Street’ is set in the time of partition. It is about the abduction of a Hindu woman by Muslim men, witnessed by a Muslim girl and her dilemma and outrage towards her own community.
The next in line is ‘A Brief Acquaintance’, I found personally boring and confusing. It is about Ron, a soldier from USA who dies near Waziristan.
Then comes another favorite of mine, ‘The Job Application’. This story describes the situation we all frequently deal with. It tells the story of a widow who applies for a job vacancy and the great pains she takes to make it up to interview, only to find that the job was not to be given to her, and shows in fine details the how a single unprofessional move by a company creates mess and flutter in her life and upsets her daily routine. You will love this too!
The ghost story, ‘The Sandstone Past’ is the next. This talks about a ghost in the elevator and a girls’ night out party. Basically, the story seeks to describe the cordial Hindu-Muslim relations in old Karachi.

The next story about honor killing can move many readers. In ‘The Wedding of Sundari’, a Sindhi teenage bride gets killed on the very day of her marriage for a very trivial issue, or rather non-issue. This is also one of my favorites.
In ‘The Goonga’, a disabled father dies craving for his son who is too embarrassed to accept him in public. This story literally made me cry and most of the readers will feel the same way.
The story ‘The Heathen Air’ is also immensely readable. This story is about the English ways of a rich lawyer and his wife’s silent suffering when he goes too far in his angreziat!

There is a solid reason behind using the first adjective to describe this book; I finished it within two days of purchase!

PS: I found it much better than the recently published book ‘Urban Shots’ which is also a collection of short stories.


  1. I am definitely going to try and get a copy. :)

  2. hii

    yes, u'll like it for sure :)

  3. haha i know u guessed..it was arun shourie..but i cant even dream whether he will remember that..he was in times of india mum for less than a week if i remember right..cheers n thanks yar

  4. Good review, will add this to my list of to-be-read for sure...:)

  5. hii mOhan

    yup, I am very sure u'll love this one!

  6. kya baat hai, Pakistani-origin books, huh? I'm not complaining though. :)

  7. hii Shakti,

    hehe! :)

  8. You should have included a link to buy this Book.