For the majority Urdu is indelibly associated with a bygone era. The cultural renaissance of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in the face of colonial oppression, heady mushairas and romantic poetry is all associated with this language.
For some it reminds them about the gritty prose of the Progressive Writers demonstrating the grim social realities of the mid-twentieth century.
Ralph Russell through his luminous collection of Urdu poetry and prose expands our world of Urdu letters to include folk and oral narratives, other than prose and poetry.
Besides canonical short stories by the likes of Manto and Premchand, there are creation tales from the Quran, popular stories of Akbar and Birbal, along with the legendary exploits of Sikandar (Alexander the Great). Selections from the sublime poetry of Mir, Ghalib and others are supplemented by astute commentary and roman transcriptions of the original Urdu.
An accessible introduction for unfamiliar readers, and a pleasurable companion for those familiar with Urdu literature, it is translated and Introduced by Ralph Russell
and edited with a foreword by Marion Molteno.