Between Clay and Dust

Between Clay and Dust Finalist for the Man Asian Literary PrizeIn an old ruined city emptied of most of its inhabitants Ustad Ramzi a famous wrestler past his prime and Gohar Jan a well known courtesan whose kotha onc

  • Title: Between Clay and Dust
  • Author: Musharraf Ali Farooqi
  • ISBN: 9781554812073
  • Page: 485
  • Format: Paperback
  • Finalist for the Man Asian Literary PrizeIn an old ruined city, emptied of most of its inhabitants, Ustad Ramzi, a famous wrestler past his prime, and Gohar Jan, a well known courtesan whose kotha once attracted the wealthy and the eminent, contemplate the former splendour of their lives and the ruthless currents of time and history that have swept them into oblivion TherFinalist for the Man Asian Literary PrizeIn an old ruined city, emptied of most of its inhabitants, Ustad Ramzi, a famous wrestler past his prime, and Gohar Jan, a well known courtesan whose kotha once attracted the wealthy and the eminent, contemplate the former splendour of their lives and the ruthless currents of time and history that have swept them into oblivion There is a bell like clarity to Farooqi s delineation of his characters, his slow unraveling of their motivations and desires This is a quietly affecting book, with a profound understanding of tragedy that what happens to us is as much a function of how we respond to events as the events themselves The Sunday Guardian

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    1 thought on “Between Clay and Dust”

    1. What would a tale of two fading giants - Gohar Jan and Ustad Ramzi - hold for a reader who has no context or reference to the old era of Pahalwans (Fighters) and Tawaifs (Courtesans)?Musharraf Ali Farooqi's 'Between Clay and Dust' may be set in an age today's generation would not relate to but the story connects every aspect of life, transcending context. Propriety and Delinquency, Fame and Fall, Life and Death, Tolerance and Prejudice, Respect and Reproach. The ideas that make up the fabric of [...]

    2. This review will probably my laziest review to date, and that’s because this book was incapable of rousing any emotion in me. I read it the way one flicks through a magazine while waiting at a dentist’s office: you might stumble across an interesting article, and there might be something that might catch your eye, but at the end of the day you willingly leave it behind you when your name is called. Probably the reason for this book’s failure to engage is in its inability to dig a little de [...]

    3. It may have the sport at its core, but it would be doing a great disservice to Musharraf Ali Farooqi's 'Between Clay And Dust' to describe it simply as a wrestling yarn. This is no paean to the golden era of Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks; nor is it likely that a ripped-up Mickey Rourke will pop up playing the title role in Hollywood any time soon.Across the sub-continent, wrestling has always been about so much more than masked avengers and overweight pantomime villains. To many, it has embodied [...]

    4. In a way that reminded me of both Salman Rushdie and The Arabian Nights, Musharraf Ali Farooqi's novel Between Clay and Dust is dreamlike enough that it reads like a fable, yet so sensuously detailed and rooted in history that it also felt like truth. Which is just another way of saying that it's artful and accomplished storytelling. There's serious Indian mud wrestling (really), geisha-like courtesans, brotherly love/hatred/competition unto death, a wrestling promoter who's like an unctuously e [...]

    5. Before I write anything else I must say that “Between Clay and Dust” is beautiful. And before it starts to sound tacky I must add that there are very few books about which I would say so. The characters, few in number, are incredibly engaging. Like people in life, we meet them knowing little, with time find out more but we never get to know them inside out. They manage outlive the pages, outsmart the narration, outreason our assumptions and while revealing their emotions, motives and acts, s [...]

    6. I liked the topic of the story rather than the story itself. The Book is predominantly about a wrestling clan set in pre-Pakistan India (I think). The Pehlvaans (enpedia/wiki/Pehlwani) engage In a type of wrestling carried out in the Indian subcontinent and in Iran also where the word comes from. It’s a subject I have always been fascinated with ever since I read about this crazy dude: enpedia/wiki/The_GreHis training regime and generally speaking the training regime of Pehlvaans is quite unli [...]

    7. I'd have to say this was one of the better books that I have had read in the past couple of years. I was very surprised at how this initially simple-seeming story became so compelling that I finished it in a couple of hours. The book told the story of Ustad Ramzi who at one time was the best wrestler around. Many younger wrestlers came to learn from him, and he was well-respected. Also, at the same time, the reader was introduced to the courtesan Gohar Jan who was known for her singing and beaut [...]

    8. Musharraf Farooqi knows the art of turning into a good story the most common and cliced things in life that fell short of an story usually. t was incredible talking to him in person about his views around Pakistani Literature at LLF and of course getting this book signed by him for me.

    9. This book is a masterpiece by Musharraf Ali Farooqi.The story beautifully portrays complex emotions and relationships of two individuals(A Pahalwan and a Tawaif) who are at the end of their glory days.

    10. I won this book in a giveaway through . About changing times and one brothers decision to let the younger brother take his place or not. A lady must decide whether to let go of her business or not. Very good! I want to know more.

    11. Tried for days to get into this but it was so dry I couldn't get past the first few pages. A shame, as I've been wanting to read it for some time.

    12. a fantastic novel about the end of an old era at the birth of a new one in 1947/partition told through the lives of ustad ramzi and gohar jan. it's a deeply saddening story but worthy of reading.

    13. Great read, and a fantastic example of character development and beautiful pensively written prose telling a simple yet powerful story about human nature.

    14. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It felt like afternoon tea I need to explain that. I was fully engaged and intrigued, but never rushed. And Very pleased to stay to the end.

    15. Reminiscent of Satyajit Ray's "The Music Room" (and not surprisingly featuring such a room), this is a masterful tale of order, decay, ritual, and betrayal. It traces the amber dusted years of a champion wrestler, who is searching for ground on which to root his legacy. Perhaps the most charged element of the tale is the wrestler Ustad's tempestuous relationship with his brother, which seems a sour, unsettling rebuke of the story of "The Prodigal Son." Around this dynamic, the novel becomes an i [...]

    16. There was a sparseness to Between Clay and Dust, which made me long for more details, more depth and a poetic or mythical approach. I felt as though I were watching the story on a stage with stock shadow puppets but I only knew the outline of the story. Perhaps this reflects a cultural difference, both in the telling of the tale and in the nature of the characters themselves. I would be interested to read another of Musharraf Ali Farooqi's books, as well as other novels based in Pakistan, to see [...]

    17. clear and sharp prose on two kinds of creative professions and their slow demise in changing times. what farooqi writes about the courtesans and wrestling champions is deeply personal and yet, it is an indictment of the society too. it holds true for modern day pakistan.

    18. 4.5 starsWhen I read the first sentence, I admit I braced myself –ruinations of the inner city attributed to the time’s proclivity. I thought I would need a dictionary to finish it ( I rarely leave a book unfinished, OCD on that) but I was happy by the end of it to have stuck to it. I rarely read literary fiction but I enjoyed this book. It was slow-building but gripped me in the end. I am a big proponent of simple prose (I read mostly YA and children’s book) and the writing by the end sur [...]

    19. It was the title of the book and the author's name that made me want to read it. The title 'Between Clay and Dust' has a natural pull to it, perhaps because, it reminds one of what we are made of and what we will turn to at the end of life. The cover of the book draws equal attention. Initially the story didn't get my full attention until I got the part where Tamami prepares for his first wrestling challenge with a wresting giant of his time. This was the high point in the story for me. This is [...]

    20. 1. El escenarioBetween Clay and Dust, de Musharraf Ali Farooqi, se inicia con un corto capítulo que determina el escenario, tanto físico como espiritual, en el que la novela se desarrolla:La ruina del antiguo centro de la ciudad se atribuía a la tendencia transformativa de los tiempos que se vivían. Se hallaba abandonado, a medias enterrado y a medias rodeado de miserables barrios de chabolas. Enclaves nuevos lo cercaban por tres lados, como evitando la sombra de su desaparecido esplendor. L [...]

    21. Quietly devastating fable about aging wrestler Ustad Ramzi and aging courtesan/singer Gohar Jan who watch as the world of their art forms fade in post-Partition Pakistan. The story of Ustad's younger brother, hoping for celebrity and losing his chance after a particularly brutal fight was extremely moving. Far more evocative than descriptive, this book felt like traditional oral storytelling, with its careful selection of details and emphasis on the universal and archetypal. At some points, prob [...]

    22. Between Clay and Dust is longlisted for the 2012 Man Asian Literary Prize, so I read it for the Shadow Man Asian Literary Prize jury (SMALP). It’s the first book I’ve ever read that features wrestling!Would I have read it if I were not a Shadow Juror? Probably not. With rare exceptions such as Ron Elliott’s Spinner: A Novel (see my review) and Stephen Carroll’s The Gift of Speed, I’m not interested in books that involve a sporting focus, especially not if they involve so-called sports [...]

    23. I didn't know what to expect from Between Clay and Dust, and the opening chapter was so verbose about place, without introducing any people, that I thought about giving it up right away. (Opening sentence: "The ruination of the inner city was attributed to time's proclivity for change.")However, each chapter is short, just a couple of pages long, and so toughing out those first few pages led me to the primary characters in the book: Ustad Ramzi, a famed wrestler and head of a school for wrestler [...]

    24. On reading the synopsis of this book i thought i would be in for a simple and poignant tale of two proud individuals who have passed their prime. Their conflicts, theirs desires and their subsequent losing battle with times is what i thought i would be in forI was looking forward to be absorbed into their world and times. None of that happened!!!And the reason why it feels such a let down is because there was every reason for this book to truely be one of those classic tales of anguish and trium [...]

    25. Musharraf Ali Farooqi's portrait of freshly-independent, changing, and conflicted territories in Asia, 1947, was not only unfamiliar, but overwhelming to me in the early pages of Between Clay and Dust-- but keep reading! Although I entered into this work with sparse knowledge of the time, the place, or the people, I soon discovered comfort in my reading. The characters, their personal and physical struggles, were warm, vivid, enthralling. Something so completely foreign to me, in nearly every re [...]

    26. The blurb to Musharaf Ali Farooqui’s Between Clay and Dust prepared me for a twilight zone, set in an akhara and a kotha and peopled with the likes of a pahalwan and a courtesan with a glorious past. But nothing warned me about its perfect sepia tones guaranteed by the time frame, setting and the craft of storytelling used in the book.It is mostly set in a world far removed from the world we know – perhaps something we know only from yesteryear movies. Yet, this world is not a story-book fan [...]

    27. Two Pakistani writers make it to Asia’s top literary awards long list” (Dec 2, 2012), The Express Tribune. I am intrigued. Nationalistic pride and an avid reader’s curiosity makes me order “Between Clay and Dust” immediately and, leaving aside whatever else I had been reading at the time, I delve straight into Musharraf Ali Farooqi’s third novel. The writing style of Between Clay and Dust draws the reader in immediately. It is poetic and fable-like. The words flow, almost musical in [...]

    28. I received an advanced review copy from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.*Between Clay and Dust* is a beautifully written tale of 1947 Pakistan when wrestling was near the end of its heyday. Two brothers own and manage a wresting training facility. The older brother, Ustad Ramzi, is the famous champion, and the younger brother, Tamami, vies for his brother's attention and approval. Ustad, bound for life to be celibate, fills the void by visiting a fading courtesan house and listening t [...]

    29. oh, the lost potential of this book. The premise was stunning - a wrestler and a courtesan living in a world where their art no longer mattered. Each character was fascinating and if properly developed, would have been part of a memorable cast. But instead they are two dimensional people and I couldn't sympathize for any of them. Farooqi while well informed of the rituals of wrestlers, doesn't bother to establish his setting properly. The novel is set after Partition but it doesn't seem to affec [...]

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