Of Gardens and Graves

Kashmir, Poetry, Politics

Book Pages: 256 Illustrations: 30 photographs Published: February 2017

Author: Suvir Kaul

Contributor: Javed Dar

Asian Studies > South Asia, Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Criticism, Postcolonial and Colonial Studies

In Of Gardens and Graves Suvir Kaul examines the disruption of everyday life in Kashmir in the years following the region's pervasive militarization in 1990. Kaul's autobiographical and analytical essays, which were prompted by his yearly visits to Kashmir, are a combination of political analysis, literary criticism, memoir, and journalistic observation. In them he explores Kashmir's pre- and post-Partition history, the effects of militarization, state repression, the suspension of civil rights on Kashmiris, and the challenge Kashmir represents to the practice of democracy in India. The volume also features translations of Kashmiri poetry written in these years of conflict. These poems constitute an archive of heightened feelings and desires that affectively interrogate official accounts of Kashmir while telling us much about those who face extraordinary political turbulence and violence. Of Gardens and Graves also contains a photo essay by Javed Dar, whose photographs work together with Kaul's essays and the poems to represent the interweaving of ordinary life, civic strife, and spectacular violence in Kashmir.


“Suvir Kaul’s impressive volume, bringing poems and photographs along with interpretative essays on the politics and history of Kashmir, tells us what has gone wrong (and is still going wrong) in Kashmir and how the security concerns of the state take precedence over the daily suffering and trauma of ordinary people. . . . Kaul’s text is dramatically highlighted as we witness firsthand this human tragedy through the poems and photographs of this magnificent book.” — Reeta C. Tremblay, Pacific Affairs

"A comprehensive analysis that forces open the layered history of the region. . . . A book of clear insights. . . . Kaul has navigated the etic and emic spaces with the ease of a committed global scholar and citizen, and the empathy of a Kashmiri man who shares his blood and bones with the Kashmiri people and the land he is writing about. For scholars and lay readers alike, this book exemplifies how a critically-engaged yet humane analysis is nurtured and executed to shine a much-needed light on the complicated political fate of the Kashmiris using their own voices." — Ather Zia, South Asia

"An eloquent appeal to the reader to understand the everyday experience of those who live in militarised Kashmir. . . . An important book that neither sentimentalises the suffering of Kashmir’s people, nor offers an abstracted analysis of their political predicament. The interweaving of essay, poetry and photography makes for a richer understanding of the ways in which global events impact on both region and on the individual within it." — Cathy Turner, Postcolonial Studies

"This book on Kashmir offers something significant as somebody has for the first time collected Kashmiri writings written under the siege." — Kashmir Times

"The combination of Suvir Kaul's essays, Kashmiri poetry, and Javed Dar's images leaves one breathless and amazed at the treasures to be found and sorrowful and outraged at the experiences to be witnessed here. Of Gardens and Graves is a completely affective geopolitical history delivered to us with authority and love." — Antoinette Burton, author of Africa in the Indian Imagination: Race and the Politics of Postcolonial Citation

"Reading Of Gardens and Graves is a treat beyond description. I have visited Kashmir several times during the period this book covers, and while reading it I felt magically transported into the invisible heart and soul of a world where much of what Suvir Kaul described had been only vaguely visible to me before. The work he has done here is brave and powerful." — David Ludden, Professor of History, New York University

"Of Gardens and Graves offers a new and necessary approach to political violence. Combining lucid historical, political, and literary analysis with stunning photographs by Javed Dar and a bilingual archive of Kashmiri poetry, Suvir Kaul’s book reveals how collective trauma permeates social life—but also how artists and writers have responded creatively to catastrophe. Intensely focused on the conflict in Kashmir, Kaul nevertheless opens up questions of global concern." — Michael Rothberg, author of Multidirectional Memory: Remembering the Holocaust in the Age of Decolonization


Availability: In stock
Price: $25.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Suvir Kaul is A. M. Rosenthal Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania and the author, most recently, of Eighteenth-Century British Literature and Postcolonial Studies.
Javed Dar is an award-winning photojournalist with the Xinhua News Agency in Srinagar and has covered the conflict in Kashmir for more than a decade.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Illustrations  ix
Preface  xiii
Acknowledgments  xxv
Introduction  1

Arjan Dev "Majboor"  14
Ghulam Hassan "Taskeen"  20
Brij Nath "Betaab"  24
Ghulam Nabi Tak "Naazir"  28
Shabir "Azar"  33

Essay 1. Visiting Kashmir, Re-learning Kashmir  39

"Shahzadah" Rafiq  64
Bashir "Dada"  66
Naji Munawar  70
Rukhsana Jabeen  72
Arshad Mushtaq  74
Ayesha "Mastoor"  78
Maqbool "Sajid"  82

Essay 3. "My Paradise in Burnin' . . . "  87

Moti Lal "Saqi"  108
Mohiuddin "Massarat"  112
Mir Ghulam Nabi "Shaheen"  116
Jawahir Lal "Saroor"  120
Pyare "Hatash"  122
Ghulam Nabi "Khayal"  124
"Shahzada" Rafiq  126

Essay 3. The Witness of Poetry  129

Rashid "Kanispuri"  158
Pyare "Hatash"  160
Jawahir Lal "Saroor"  162
Fayaz Talgami  164
Bashir "Zair"  166
Ghulam Hassan "Ghamgeen"  168
Kashi Nath "Baghwan"  172

Essay 4. Indian Empire (and the Case of Kashmir)  177

Zahid Mukhtar  204
Som Nath Bhat "Veer"  208

Coda. A Time without Soldiers  213
Bibliography  217
Index  225
Sales/Territorial Rights: World exc South Asia

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-6289-0 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-6278-4
Publicity material