Book Review: ‘For Now, It Is Night’ by Hari Krishna Kaul

Rediscovering Kashmiri Heritage Through the Stories of Hari Krishna Kaul

Book Title: For Now, It Is Night: Stories
Author: Hari Krishna Kaul
Translator(s): Kalpana Raina, Tanveer Ajsi, Gowhar Fazili, and Gowhar Yaqoob
Publisher: HarperCollins
Number of Pages: 216
ISBN: 978-9356993976
Date Published: Sept. 24, 2023
Price: INR 259

For Now, It Is Night by Hari Krishna Kaul Book Cover

Book Review

A recent contribution to Kashmiri literature has given the once-vacant landscape new vitality. Hari Krishna Kaul’s “For Now, It Is Night,” a collection of short stories published between 1970 and 2000, stands out as a notable contribution. This carefully picked collection not only reintroduces Kaul’s writings but also has collaborative translations by Kalpana Raina, Tanveer Ajsi, Gowhar Fazili, and Gowhar Yaqoob.

Unlike traditional collections with different translators for each story, this collaborative endeavor imbues each narrative with a distinct synergy, drawing on a deep source of familial connection and intellectual commitment. Kalpana Raina, Kaul’s niece, leads the effort, motivated by both personal interest and a larger purpose to preserve and propagate her uncle’s literary legacy. Raina describes the translation process as a community endeavor that reflects the Kashmiri Pandit experience in exile. When dealing with the complexity of language and script, the translators rely on aural clues to decipher meaning, emphasizing the difficulty of cultural preservation in exile. Kaul’s vivid work transcends linguistic borders, reaching readers of all ages.

The turbulent history of Kashmir is reflected in Hari Krishna Kaul’s literary works, which range from the serene beauty of his own place to the dissonance of exile. Kaul explores issues of identity, nostalgia, and the human condition via his subtle narrative, providing emotional insights into the collective psyche of Kashmiris regardless of their religious or ethnic connections.

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In “For Now, It Is Night,” readers are encouraged to enter Kaul’s kaleidoscope universe, where stories of desire, perseverance, and redemption weave together in a tapestry of creative beauty. As the collection moves across the shifting landscapes of pre- and post-exile Kashmir, Kaul’s narratives serve as a light of introspection, revealing the universal search for meaning and belonging in the midst of uncertainty.

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