Author: Mirza Muhammad Hadi Rusva
Translator(s): David Matthews
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8171673112
Umrao Jan Ada, the story of a Lucknow courtesan, is one of the most famous works of Indian fiction. In her childhood, Umrao was abducted and sold into the house of the procuress, Khanum Jan. after her training; she was introduced into society and formed a number of precarious liaisons with the city’s nobles, whom she delighted with her exquisite singing and dancing. Her mastery of these arts and her skill in the composition of Urdu poetry even brought her to the attention of Royal Court of Avadh. The events of 1857 dashed her hopes, but she survived the upheavals and lived, so they say, to tell her story to Mirza Rusva, the author of what can justifiably be called the first true Urdu novel.
The novel, Umrao Jan Ada, which recounts the life-story of a courtesan of nineteenth century Lucknow, is one of the best-known and best-loved works of early Urdu fiction. Its authors, Mirza Muhammad Hadi Rusva, was born in Luknow around the time of the 1857 Indian Mutiny, which was a significant turning point not only in the life of the Princely States like Avadh (Oudh), but in the history of the country as a whole.
Compared to many other Urdu novels of the period, Umrao Jan Ada is fresh and vivacious; its plot is uncontrived and its language remarkably lucid and natural. Little in the novel requires commentary or explanation. A few notes, marked, in the text, mostly dealing with minor historical and cultural points have been added in the appendix.
Umrao Jan Ada
Notes to the Text