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Curfewed Night: One Kashmiri Journalist's Frontline Account of Life, Love, and War in His Homeland Hardcover – February 2, 2010

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Curfewed Night: One Kashmiri Journalist's Frontline Account of Life, Love, and War in His Homeland + Women, War, and the Making of Bangladesh: Remembering 1971 + Beyond Belief: India and the Politics of Postcolonial Nationalism (Politics, History, and Culture)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; 1 edition (February 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439109109
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439109106
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,112,432 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Native Kashmiri and journalist Peer writes carefully about his country’s descent into war over the past 20 years. Covering the separatist movement and the country’s fragile position between India and Pakistan, both of which covet Kashmir, places Peer in danger; but he resists the pull of traditional war reportage. He is first and foremost an eloquent writer, and his ability to turn a phrase like a novelist, even when writing about the most devastating of truths, is what elevates this title. From life in a village militarized by India to fleeing militants trained by Pakistan, Peer sees the conflict from the ground up and how both sides are so casually destroying what they want for their own. Death and dishonor have become commonplace for the victims, soldiers, and warriors. Whether considering torture prisons or the souls of poets, Peer travels his homeland looking for Kashmir’s heart. It is killing me, says one friend as life under occupation and terrorist threat grinds down upon him. Peer longs for a brighter future while hoping that someday the war they were fighting . . . would disappear like footsteps on winter snow. A stunning book on the loss of peace. --Colleen Mondor


"Describing the ruin of Kashmir, Curfewed Night doesn't only shock, it challenges our most cherished beliefs––in democracy, rule of law, and the power of individual conscience. Everyone should read it."
— Pankaj Mishra, author of Temptations of the West

"The story of Kashmir has never been told before so evocatively and profoundly. Peer writes with the skill of a novelist, the insight of a journalist and the evocative power of a poet."
— Ahmad Rashid, author of The Taliban and Descent

"A passionate and important book - a brave and brilliant report from a conflict the world has chosen to ignore."
— Salman Rushdie

Curfewed Night is the finest book I have read on the contemporary Kashmir conflict – literary, humane, clear-eyed and reliable. Basharat Peer has given voice, unforgettably, to a generation of Kashmiris who have never been heard in the United States, but who should be.
— Steve Coll, author of The Bin Ladens, Ghost Wars and On The Grand Trunk Road

More About the Author

BASHARAT PEER was born in Kashmir in 1977. He studied journalism and politics at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He has worked as an editor at Foreign Affairs and served as a correspondent at Tehelka, India's leading English language weekly. His work has appeared in The Guardian, New Statesman, The Nation, Financial Times Magazine, N+1, and Columbia Journalism Review, among other publications. Curfewed Night, his first book, won one of India's top literary awards, the Vodafone Crossword Book Award for English Non Fiction. Peer is a Fellow at Open Society Institute and lives in New York.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Dr. M. I. Vakil on November 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I lived in Kashmir during the 90's and while reading Curfewed night, I relived the terible events of those years. Basharat has done a great job of recording and compiling a sample of the immense suffering that Kashmiris endured during the 90s and continue to suffer the wider implications of the impasse. I bought 4 copies after reading it to distribute to my friends and family.
A must read for anyone interested in the Kashmir problem.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By bt on March 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book is a beautifully written account of the conflict in Kashmir, in which over 80,000 people have died since 1989. It is written by someone who spent his formative years during the conflict. Like all great books, this one is about human suffering, and what war does to people, to communities, to dreams, and to children's games. While the narrative follows author's own life, I admired the way it was never disruptive -- or worse, indulgent: you rarely see the author describe his own emotions; he builds a novelistic experience for the reader. This is true especially when narrating people's stories: he's virtually transparent. (I know at such moments, rather than being honest witnesses to people's stories, most writers would succumb to the temptation of describing their own feelings.)

Each story in this book is a story of loss: how young men and teenagers lost their youth and teens to conflict -- some with their bodies, others with their souls, many with both and more --, how bunkers and checkpoints cropped among fields of flowers and gardens of fruits, and how schools and temples were turned into military compounds, and how, even in war, people fighting on opposite sides can turn out to be the unlikeliest of acquaintances. In one story, a mother witnessed her son being handed an explosive mine and forced to go into a building where militants were hiding. All she could do was to fight the soldiers and save her other son from a similar fate.

Reading this book, I kept thinking of the Robert Hass's poem, "Winged and Acid Dark":

Basho' told Rensetsu to avoid sensational materials.
If the horror of the world were the truth of the world,
he said, there would be no one to say it
and no one to say it to.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Loves the View VINE VOICE on December 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Having been struck by the beauty of this area through the The Vale of Kashmir, I sought a general work on it. This is the only non-academic/non-technical work I found. The author describes the people and their lives first through some background on himself then through stories of people friends, relatives, colleagues and acquaintances.

In school, he and his young friends admire the insurgents for their shoes, their hair style and their guns. Some join the insurgency for these very reasons and pay with their lives. The author, protected from bad decisions by a wise family, goes to India to be educated. Later, as a journalist he interviews survivors and families of the dead, missing and tortured. He speaks with colleagues, Indians, Kashmir ex-pats and refugees and through their stories a portrait of Kashmir is drawn.

This gorgeous land of natural beauty is a a man made battle zone, complete with rubble, barbed wire, constant identity checks. People can be disappeared. Soldiers enter homes and take what is there. A curfew has lasted over 20 years.

Peer describes the multi-ethnic peace before these battles. He shows how Kashmir Muslims, many who have integrated Hindu customs, are comparatively resistant to fundamentalist and political Islam. Women in Kashmir seem to have educational opportunities. Peer interviews a number of women, too often ignored in books by males on Muslim countries, (Among the Believers: An Islamic Journey;
...Read more ›
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By D Marley on August 24, 2011
Format: Hardcover
No other "patriotism" in the world has such a legion of aggressive online champions as the Indian version: make some innocuous and mildly critical comment about the "rising superpower" on the most obscure of internet forums, and chances are a proud Indian nationalist - as likely as not to be a resident of somewhere other than India - will come blazing out of the ether to tell you just how wrong you are.
Inevitably then, there are a good few one-star reviews of Basharat Peer's Curfewed Night out there on booksellers' sites, accusing the author of being, amongst other things, a brainwashed terrorist sympathiser, and - best of all - "biased".

These people do not appear to have read the book, for while they dish out the standard lines used by strident pro-Indian voices to attack any critique of the Kashmir situation - that the author "has failed to mention the fate of the Kashmiri Hindu Pandits", and has "demonised the Indian soldiers" - Peer has done nothing of the sort.
The fate of the Pandits is a thread running through much of the book, not just in the chapter (The Missing Shiva) dedicated to the topic, and Peer openly wonders what the Indian soldiers are like as human beings, and finally gets to find out, with a sympathetic portrait of an officer who comes to a friend's office in Srinagar. When, on the other hand, it comes to the militants - both Pakistani and local - though he skirts around the issue and makes multiple abortive attempts, he never really manages to have a proper conversation with one on the subject of their experiences and motivations. And he certainly does nothing to absolve the militants of anything - they tried to blow up his parents, after all.
So not the howling anti-Indian dirge some would have you believe then.
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