Rahman Abbas is a major contemporary Indian novelist and winner of India's highest Literary award, the Sahitya Akademi award, for the year 2018, for his fourth Urdu novel Rohzin. He has also won two state Sahitya Akademi awards.
Rahman writes in Urdu and English. When his first novel was published, Islamists had accused him of spreading obscenity through his work and had filed a case against his novel. He was forced to resign from his job since he was teaching at a Muslim institution. Rahman fought a court trial for over ten years and was acquitted in 2016 of obscenity charges.
Rahman is the author of nine books, including four novels, Nakhalistan Ki Talash (The Search of an Oasis, 2004), Ek Mamnua Muhabbat Ki Kahani (A Forbidden Love Story, 2009), Khuda Ke Saaye Mein Ankh Micholi (Hide and Seek in the Shadow of God, 2011) and Rohzin (The Melancholy of the Soul, 2016).
The latest novel, Rohzin, has been translated into German, English and Hindi. The German translation was discussed in Switzerland as part of 'The Days of Indian Literature' in February 2018, and in May-June 2018 Rahman toured various cities of Germany to discuss the novel with readers. The novel has also received the prestigious LitProm Grant managed by the Swiss and German governments.
Rahman lives in Mumbai and works for Strategic Foresight Group.
LONGLISTED FOR THE JCB PRIZE 2022
Mumbai was almost submerged on the fatal noon of 26 July 2005, when the merciless downpour and cloudburst had spread utter darkness and horror in the heart of the city. River Mithi was inundated, and the sea was furious. At this hour of torturous gloom, Rohzin begins declaring in the first line that it was the last day in the life of two lovers, Asrar and Hina.
The novel's protagonist, Asrar, comes to Mumbai, and through his eyes the author describes the hitherto-unknown aspects of Mumbai, unseen colours and unseen secrets of the city's underbelly.
The love story of Asar and Hina begins abruptly and ends tragically. It is love at first sight which takes place in the premises of Haji Ali Dargah.
The arc of the novel studies various aspects of human emotions, especially love, longing and sexuality as sublime expressions. The emotions are examined, so is love as well as the absence of it, through a gamut of characters and their interrelated lives: Asrar's relationship with his teacher, Ms Jamila, a prostitute named Shanti and, later, with Hina; Hina's classmate Vidhi's relations with her lover and others; Hina's father Yusuf's love for Aymal; Vanu's indulgence in prostitutes.
Rohzin dwells on the plane of an imagination that takes readers on a unique journey across the city of Mumbai, a highly intriguing character in its own right.