Shahnaz Bashir speaking at the interaction event | Photo: Sanna Irshad Mattoo
Shahnaz Bashir speaking at the interaction event | Photo: Sanna Irshad Mattoo

SRINAGAR: Eminent novelist and academician Shahnaz Bashir dedicated his second novel Scattered Souls to the victims of the ongoing uprising in Kashmir valley that began on July 8.

Shahnaz was speaking on Saturday at an interaction event of his new novel published by internationally reputed publisher Harper-Collins. Scattered Souls is a collection of 13 short stories that mostly revolve around a four-member family in conflict-torn Kashmir.

“I dedicate this book exclusively to all those souls we lost in these four months, whose bodies are scattered across the length and breadth of this strife-torn place,” Shahnaz said.

“I dedicate it to those thousands of souls who got injured, and thousands of those who are languishing in jails, also, some of those who lost a voice, and hundreds of those who lost their eyesight,” he said.

Shahnaz said words could not be enough without having personally experienced the pain of losing eyesight. “But believe me, blind are not those who cannot see but those who don’t; And we all see those who don’t,” he added.

Shahnaz teaches conflict reporting and narrative journalism at Central University of Kashmir. His debut novel The Half Mother won the Muse India Young Writer Award 2015.

The publisher introduces the novel as an “extraordinary collection” that brings together “stories of people, probing the quandaries of their precarious existence.”

“There is that ex-militant whose past continues to stalk his present; the wife who begins to dress like her husband after losing him to a crossfire,” the publisher writes. “There is the boy who obsessively follows President Obama’s India visit, hoping to hear him mention the ‘K’ word; and the man whose transistor triggers paranoia in his neighbourhood.”

The cover picture of the book shows tens of people, wearing pheran, climb trees to watch crowded funeral of a slain armed rebel in South Kashmir.