A personal, moving, and vibrant picture of one of the most beautiful and troubled places in the world, described through the experiences of one family, whose fortunes have changed dramatically with those of the region.
If there is a paradise on earth, it is definitely here, here and only here," said the early seventeenth-century Mughal Emperor Jehangir when describing the Kashmir Valley. But for nearly twenty years this delicate mountain region has been torn by a brutal conflict that has pitched idealism against Islamist militancy and military crackdown. In the tradition of Ryszard Kapuscinski, this is an intimate story told by the author, journalist, and aid worker Justine Hardy. Having lived and worked in Kashmir for many years, she draws the reader beyond the headlines into the world of In the Valley of Mist. A family portrait, the book describes a unique and gentle culture that has been shattered by the impact of insurgency, repression, and Islamic extremism in a place once famous for the warmth between its Hindu and Muslim residents.
"If you want people to know do not tell stories that will make them hold their breath like in a made-up film. Tell them the truth. It is strong enough," she was told when she asked permission of her Kashmiri friends to tell this story.
Revealing and disturbing, In the Valley of Mist paints Kashmir as the template for the changing face of Islam.
Justine Hardy currently writes for The Financial Times. She is the author of The Ochre Border, Scoop-Wallah, Goat, Bollywood Boy, and The Wonder House. She divides her time between London and Kashmir.
Hardy (The Wonder House) draws on her 12-year relationship with the Dar family to recount the story of modern-day Kashmirpart pastoral idyll, part war zone. Hardy writes, There is no single casualty of war, no one noun that sums up what has been lost, and she paints a moving portrait of the ravaged communities and landscape, weaving in analysis of how the political machinations of Pakistan and India have quelled or intensified the conflict. She contrasts the sleepy valley she encountered decades ago to the Dar familys Kashmir, which has witnessed the 1989 uprisings and strikes, martial law, deadly encounter killings, mass migrations of Pandits (Kashmiri Hindus), increasing religious orthodoxy and the widespread disruption of education, health care, economic prosperity and family and social life. Hardys deep familiarity with the regionshe has reported on the Kashmir conflict for close to 20 yearsallows her to present complicated and conflicting points of view from reformed jihadists, Indian generals, Pandit refugees and various members of the Dar family. Her reporting is admirable and gilded by lyrical prose and evocative description. (June) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.