Qurratulain Hyder's River of Fire makes a bid to be recognized in the West as what it has long been acknowledged in the East: the most important novel of twentieth-century Urdu fiction. First published as Aag ka Darya in 1959, River of Fire encompasses the fates of four recurring characters over two and a half millennia: Gautam, Champa, Kamal, and CyrilBuddhist, Hindu, Muslim, and Christian. In different eras different relations form and reform among the four: romance and war, possession and dispossession. Interweaving parables, legends, dreams, diaries, and letters, Hyder's prose is lyrical and witty. And she argues for a culture that is inclusive: River of Fire is a book that insists on the irrelevance of religion in defining Indian identity.