Curfewed Night: One Kashmiri Journalist's Frontline Account of Life, Love, and War in His Homeland Hardcover – Feb 2 2010
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"Describing the ruin of Kashmir, Curfewed Night doesn't only shock, it challenges our most cherished beliefs––in democracy, rule of law, and the power of individual conscience. Everyone should read it."
— Pankaj Mishra, author of Temptations of the West
"The story of Kashmir has never been told before so evocatively and profoundly. Peer writes with the skill of a novelist, the insight of a journalist and the evocative power of a poet."
— Ahmad Rashid, author of The Taliban and Descent
"A passionate and important book - a brave and brilliant report from a conflict the world has chosen to ignore."
— Salman Rushdie
Curfewed Night is the finest book I have read on the contemporary Kashmir conflict – literary, humane, clear-eyed and reliable. Basharat Peer has given voice, unforgettably, to a generation of Kashmiris who have never been heard in the United States, but who should be.
— Steve Coll, author of The Bin Ladens, Ghost Wars and On The Grand Trunk Road
About the Author
BASHARAT PEER was born in Kashmir in 1977. He studied journalism and politics at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He has worked as an editor at Foreign Affairs and served as a correspondent at Tehelka, India's leading English language weekly. His work has appeared in The Guardian, New Statesman, The Nation, Financial Times Magazine, N+1, and Columbia Journalism Review, among other publications. Curfewed Night, his first book, won one of India's top literary awards, the Vodafone Crossword Book Award for English Non Fiction. Peer is a Fellow at Open Society Institute and lives in New York.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
A must read for anyone interested in the Kashmir problem.
Each story in this book is a story of loss: how young men and teenagers lost their youth and teens to conflict -- some with their bodies, others with their souls, many with both and more --, how bunkers and checkpoints cropped among fields of flowers and gardens of fruits, and how schools and temples were turned into military compounds, and how, even in war, people fighting on opposite sides can turn out to be the unlikeliest of acquaintances. In one story, a mother witnessed her son being handed an explosive mine and forced to go into a building where militants were hiding. All she could do was to fight the soldiers and save her other son from a similar fate.
Reading this book, I kept thinking of the Robert Hass's poem, "Winged and Acid Dark":
Basho' told Rensetsu to avoid sensational materials.
If the horror of the world were the truth of the world,
he said, there would be no one to say it
and no one to say it to.
At the end of it, this book affirms not what the ideological lot would have you believe (that it is about Pakistan or India, War on Terror, Indian democracy, conspiracy theories, etc.), but what Bash'o told Rensetsu: it is speaking to someone who cares.
Please read this book. You would know know things that make us human.
I liked the book. It does not contain much that is insightful, but it does give a good feel for what it was to grow up in rural Kashmir, the fear, the pain, the injustice of it all. Regrettably the author is much concerned with his own feelings, and can get repetitive on this score, as when time and again he notes his reluctance to look up people.
In school, he and his young friends admire the insurgents for their shoes, their hair style and their guns. Some join the insurgency for these very reasons and pay with their lives. The author, protected from bad decisions by a wise family, goes to India to be educated. Later, as a journalist he interviews survivors and families of the dead, missing and tortured. He speaks with colleagues, Indians, Kashmir ex-pats and refugees and through their stories a portrait of Kashmir is drawn.
This gorgeous land of natural beauty is a a man made battle zone, complete with rubble, barbed wire, constant identity checks. People can be disappeared. Soldiers enter homes and take what is there. A curfew has lasted over 20 years.
Peer describes the multi-ethnic peace before these battles. He shows how Kashmir Muslims, many who have integrated Hindu customs, are comparatively resistant to fundamentalist and political Islam. Women in Kashmir seem to have educational opportunities. Peer interviews a number of women, too often ignored in books by males on Muslim countries, (Among the Believers: An Islamic Journey; The Ayatollah Begs to Differ: The Paradox of Modern Iran; Come Back to Afghanistan: A California Teenager's Story to name a few, otherwise, good books).
The book ends with a slight note of hope.
This is a good starting point for understanding the situation. It is light on the politics, focusing instead on the human tragedy this power struggle has created. For those more versed in what is happening, it provides a good background on the human cost of this war.
I expected a book which would provide me an understanding of a complex situation that is Kashmir, instead what I got was a 'freedom fighters' version of his life in the valley. And the author doesn't try to hide his loyalties which is refreshing. But the beginning of the conflict, the radicalization of kashmiri Islam, the loss of lives and dignity of the Hindus at the hands of the terrorists, their mass exodus under duress, and the religious nature of the ongoing protests are conveniently glossed over, whereas the terrorists are painted as heroes, their murders are justified( like Yusuf who was killed for being opportunistic, his own parents were almost blasted because an ikhwani had misguided the terrorists etc), army is demonized and there is no mention of the sexual humiliation of the locals by the terrorists. All in all this is one persons perspective- a devout Kashmiri Muslim from the Valley. If you are looking for that then this is a great book, but if you a little want more then please read this along with Rahul Pandita's ' Our moon has blood clots' and Jagmohans ' my frozen turbulence in kashmir'
Having said that it is a page turner and the innocence of life prior to the radicalization is certainly moving. I would recommend this book, but along with the other 2