'Sunlight on a Broken Column'
I'm so pleased to have come across this first edition of Attia Hosain's wonderful 1961 novel about personal and political loyalties among Lucknow's Muslim elite a generation earlier amid the rise of the Muslim League. I found it in the Bloomsbury Oxfam Books - a happy hunting ground for me. The dust jacket design is by Sally Bodington.
This is in part an autobiographical novel - it's about a young woman's coming of age, breaking free from the constraints of family and tradition. I was given a copy by the late Ram Advani when I first visited his Lucknow bookshop twenty-five years ago. I read it, enjoyed it, learnt from it - the writing is as elegant as the now lost culture it depicted.
Cecil Day Lewis was Attia Hosain's editor at Chatto & Windus, and Virago has republished Sunlight on a Broken Column in their modern classics series. The title, by the way, is taken from a line in a T.S. Eliot poem.
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