I take great pleasure in announcing the arrival of my latest book. Called Release and Other Stories, it has been published by Harper Collins. While only a couple of advance copies have come as yet, the book is expected to be avialble in bookstores in a week's time. I do hope you will buy it, read it and find something of some interest in it. Till then, please look at the cover jacket and the publicity material culled from the publisher's brochure...
There have been stories about many of India’s niche communities – the Parsis, Sikhs, the different denominations of Christians – but nothing about the Muslims, India’s largest and most visible minority, in Indian Writing in English.
In this, her debut collection of fiction, Rakhshanda Jalil draws attention to the lives of the Indian Muslim, not the marginalised or ghettoised Muslims of popular stereotype but ordinary, mainstream ones. The minutiae of everyday life are captured with painstaking gentleness as layers of identities are peeled back to reveal real life and blood people. Perfectly engraved cameos of grief and separation, frailty and strength, resilience and defeat, revenge and jealousy glow in the tautly-strung warp and weft of her stories. While the title story, Release, is an exquisite invocation of a vanished world, the others deal with contemporary and commonplace issues. The illusion of domestic harmony, the discord that breeds within a marriage, the definitions of success or failure, the inexplicableness of what attracts one person to another – Rakhshanda Jalil explores all this and more and lays bare a world at once familiar and little-known.
Taken together this collection brings to life the Indian Muslims who have forever grappled with twin identities, that of being Indian and Muslim, and long chaffed in the straightjacket of convention and stereotype. These stories release them from the typecast of popular imagination and recast them as real people with all the frailties and strengths of ordinary mortals. With Release & Other Stories, they move from the fringes of our collective consciousness to unknown men and women who are strangely familiar in their ordinariness.