Read of the week (May 2 to May 8)

Read of the week (May 2 to May 8)

A Map Of Longings

A Map Of Longings

This first definitive biography of Agha Shahid Ali offers a rich portrait of the poet and the world he inhabited. Shahid was widely regarded as one of the finest poets from the Indian subcontinent, and his works are read across the world, touching millions of lives.

A pioneer of ghazal writing in English, he wrote extensively about loss, nostalgia and home. A witness to the conflict that ravaged his homeland, Kashmir, a loss he lamented in his collection, The Country Without a Post Office, Shahid has today become a symbol of hope in a violent world.

In this biography, Manan Kapoor recounts the concerns that shaped Shahid’s life and works, as he follows the footsteps of ‘The Beloved Witness’ from Kashmir to New Delhi and finally to the United States. He charts Shahid’s friendships with figures like Begum Akhtar and James Merrill, and the lives he touched with his compassion and love. He also traces the complex evolution of his evocative verses that mapped various cultures and geographies, and mourned acts of injustices and losses, both personal and political. Drawing on various unpublished materials and in-depth interviews with his family, friends, students and others who knew him, Kapoor narrates the riveting story of a major literary voice and his poetic vision, revealing not just what he wrote, but also how he taught the world to live.