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River of Fire [Paperback]

Qurratulain Hyder
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

29 Jun 2003
In the season of rainclouds in the 4th century BC, Gautam Nilamber, a student at the Forest University of Shravasti chances upon Hari Shankar, a princeling yearning to be a Buddhist monk. Guatam falls in love with the beautiful, sharp-witted Champak, and a tale begins that flows through time.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 428 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation (29 Jun 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811215334
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811215336
  • Product Dimensions: 20.4 x 13 x 2.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,032,814 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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It was the first beerbahuti of the season that Gautam had seen. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An enlightened fire! 2 Jan 2009
Hyder was a prolific writer in Urdu and this translation of one of her greatest works is a godsend to those who wish to experience her work in English. This book takes the reader on an interesting journey of faith, religion, society and cultures. It challenges the way we view the world and people, something we take for granted in many of our walks of life.
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4.0 out of 5 stars a vast, epic tale 2 May 2010
originally written in urdu, this book covers a huge space in time, thousands of years of indian history, using four recurring characters of different religions, hindu, muslim, buddhist and christian. reappearing in various time periods, these four character's lives intertwine creating a rich and interesting storyline. the story, however, is almost the sub-plot to the telling of indian history, a subject i am not particularly knowledgable on. i strongly recommend reading this book with the use of an encyclopedia or the internet if this is the case as the depth of the historical recounting is immense, to the point of being confusing. i really had to consciously keep up with what was going on, which characters were which and where in time we were.

the pace of the book is fast and rambling, slowing later as it approaches relatively modern times. it has an element of a fairy tale, passed down from generations, slowly becoming more and more embellished and elaborate as it goes on. the descriptions of india are beautiful and rich, exactly as i would expect india to be, having never been and i really felt like the chaos, pace and madness of asia had been captured.

this book does require some fairly intense tolerance and patience but ultimately it is worth it simply for the lavishness of the story and the interesting history of the country.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, enchanting and a victim of regional bias 10 Dec 2001
By Adnan - Published on
The story begins with Nilambar Gautam, a forest university student who travels the country at the time when Buddhist ideas were sweeping through India, he mets Hari Shanker a Buddhist and falls in love with Champa, the time passes and the next Gautam, Hari Shanker and Champa surface in new era- this time it is Moghul era and the arrival of Islam in India. Abul Mansoor Kamaluddin arrives from Baghdad and meets Champa, Hari and Gautam. The characters depict the civilisational conflicts, the mingling of the two great religions and the shaping of the new nation. The third era begins with the Europian advent in Asia and with Cyril Ashley, an English, the fourth character arrives in the book. The four characters return in successive periods in different roles until the bloody partition changes the geographical boundaries of the country. The magnificent description, the vast continuum of time and the canvas of the novel places it at par with Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude, if not above. Had the book translated when it had been written, the author would have been ranked above Kundera and Marquez today.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great novel 12 Mar 2000
By Abida Ripley - Published on
This is one of the finest pieces of literature I have read. There is history, philosophy, psychology and above all human relationship. I like the engaging style, the weaving of the events and the passion that can be seen through the pages.
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant novel that deserves a retranslation 3 Mar 2014
By Tyree - Published on
Buy this novel and read it. It's a classic of world literature, especially worthwhile for anyone interested in South Asian, post-colonial, or feminist literature. The "River of Fire" refers to the Buddha's Fire Sermon via T.S. Eliot's "The Wasteland." The one caveat is that the translation was done by Qurratulain Hyder herself. In places it's clear that the prose is inadequate to the novel's ideas and structure. My hope is someone worthy eventually gives this novel the translation it deserves.
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic 23 Sep 2013
By Arif Subhan, CCE, FACCE - Published on
A great book to read over and over again. The writer finished the book in 1954 but reveals signs of events that took place 17 years later with such a deep insight, it is just amazing. Its a very thorough analysis of the mixing of cultures and religions which is India, with an incisive and eye opening view.
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