Centred around two prominent Lucknow families, the narrative closes in on the lives and struggles of Qambar, a romantic revolutionary, and the three women drawn to him-Bela, the daughter of a mirasi-bhand couple, desperate to break away from her tainted ‘legacy’; Safia, the polio-strichen daughter of the Raja of Teen Katori, an independent educationist’ dealing with the crushing rejection of her childhood betrothed and the ‘demons that haunt her in its wake; and the eponymous heroine, Chandni begum, destitute survivor of a once powerful landed family, looking for a way to get by respectably.
Hyder returns to her favourite themes and spaces-partition, women entertainers, popular mysticism, the illustrious homes of to tell a riveting tale, liberally sprinkled with entertaining characters and biting political and social comment.
Saleem Kidwai is a medieval Historian, scholar and translator. He has co-edited same-Sex love in India: Readings from Literature and History (2000), a Pinoneering work documenting and exploring the indigenous roots of same-sex desire in South Asia; he has translated the singer Malka Pukhraj’s autobiography, Song sung True (2004) and Mirror of Wonders and Other Tales (2012), a collection of short stories by Syed Rafiq Hussain.
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