Between Clay and Dust


By Musharraf Ali Farooqi

cover image of Between Clay and Dust

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After the partition of India and the creation of Pakistan in 1947, Ustad Ramzi is a famed wrestler, renowned for his enormous strength and unmatched technique. Young apprentices once flocked to his akhara to learn his craft, fans adored him, and rival wrestling clans dreaded him. But now Ramzi's physical prowess—if not his indomitable will—is on the wane, while his reckless younger brother Tamami, who lacks Ramzi's respect for ancient tradition, is hungry for glory and eager to take on his brother's mantle.

In another part of the inner city, the courtesan Gohar Jan was once celebrated throughout the country for her beauty and the seductive power of her singing—while feared for her iron will—her kotha was thronged by nobles, rich men, and infatuated admirers. But Gohar Jan's world is changing, too, and the rarified fire of the courtesans is in danger of being extinguished by an increasingly intolerant state.

As their world crumbles around them, Ustad Ramzi and Gohar Jan stand resolute against the catastrophe of history, with willpower their only protection. But what lengths will they go to in order to protect their traditions? Shortlisted for The Man Asian Literary Prize, Musharraf Ali Farooqi's artfully wrought novel Between Clay and Dust is an arresting account of love, honor, strength, betrayal, and the ways in which we wrestle with history.

Between Clay and Dust