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Meet Upendranath Ashk, The Author of ‘In The City, A Mirror Wandering’

Unfolding over the course of a single day, Upendranath Ashk’s sweeping novel, In The City, A Mirror Wandering explores the inner struggles of Chetan, an aspiring young writer, as he roams the labyrinthine streets of 1930s’ Jalandhar, haunted by his thwarted ambitions but intent on fulfilling his dreams.

Here are a few things about the about the man behind this wondrous book:

Upendranath Ashk (1910-1996), was one of Hindi literature’s best known and most controversial authors.

Ashk was born in Jalandhar and spent the early part of his writing career as an Urdu author in Lahore.

Encouraged by Premchand, he switched to Hindi, and a few years before Partition, moved to Bombay, Delhi and finally Allahabad in 1948, where he spent the rest of his life.

 By the time of his death, Ashk’s phenomenally large oeuvre spanned over a hundred volumes of fiction, poetry, memoir, criticism and translation.

Ashk was extremely vocal about taking on his critics, and he had a tumultuous association with many of his fellow writers—most notably his friend and rival Saadat Hasan Manto, about whom he penned a wry and celebrated memoir Manto Mera Dushman (or ‘Manto, My Enemy).

Ashk is perhaps best known for his six-volume novel cycle, Girti Divarein, or Falling Walls—an intensely detailed chronicle of the travails of a young Punjabi man attempting to become a writer-which has earned the author comparisons to Marcel Proust.

Ashk was the recipient of numerous prizes and awards during his lifetime for his masterful portrayal, by turns humorous and remarkably profound, of the everyday lives of ordinary people.

Intensely poignant and vividly evocative, In the City a Mirror Wandering is the second novel in the Falling Walls series but stands on its own strength. It is a poignant exploration of not only a dynamic, bustling city but also the rich tapestry of human emotion that consumes us all.

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