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Essence of Camphor Hardcover – 1 Sep 2001

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The publishing of this collection is a great service to American readers. Translated from Urdu for the first time, these seven stories by a retired professor of Persian at Lucknow University introduce another distinctive voice in the growing chorus of fiction from India. In a way, Masud is more Indian than most, for these works are all set deep in an India that has very little reference to the larger world or to the current age. All deal in one way or another with the elusive and unattainable. In the title story, a perfumier describes how the essence of camphor became entwined with his recollections of a doomed older girl who was a neighbor when he was young. The more lighthearted "Myna from the Peacock Garden" traces the determination of a poor man employed as a gardener at a royal palace to fulfill his daughter's desire for a myna bird. Though the stories have a dreamlike quality, they are firmly anchored by vivid imagery of sights, sounds, and smells. Mary Ellen Quinn


A brilliant writer whose tales seem spun from the lush threads of a narrative magic carpet. -- Elle, April 2000

A skillful mix of otherworldly imitations and psychological pungency....[M]esmerizes. -- Boston Globe, Bill Marx, 5 April 2000

Irreducibly authentic. Masud is eminently successful in bringing a sense of vivid reality to his abstract vision of a life which is no more. -- Safdir Mir, Dawn

One may turn to Masud for a genuine sense of tragedy which is also vigorous and enlightening. -- Muzaffar Ali Syed, The Friday Times

The most extraordinary fictional voice to have emerged in world literature this decade. -- Amit Chaudhuri, author of Freedom Song

The most extraordinary voice to emerge in literature this decade. -- Amit Chaudhudri, author of Freedom Song: Three Novels

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 187 pages
  • Publisher: The New Press (1 September 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565845838
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565845831
  • Product Dimensions: 14.5 x 1.9 x 21.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 1.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,40,680 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars 3 reviews
5.0 out of 5 starsThis Book Blew Me Away!
30 May 2003 - Published on Amazon.com
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James W. Fonseca
3.0 out of 5 starsStories from Rural India
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5.0 out of 5 starsvery evocative and rooted. zen_108@hotmail.com
31 October 2000 - Published on Amazon.com
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