Zameen (novel)

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AuthorKhadija Mastoor
Original titleزمین
TranslatorDaisy Rockwell
Set inPakistan in the late 1940s
Published1983 (1983)
Published in English
2019 (2019)
Media typePrint (paperback)
Pages238 (first edition)
ISBN9693505743 (Sang-e-Meel Publications, 1995 (1995))
LC ClassPK2200.K394 Z24

Zameen (Urdu: زمین, romanizedZamīn, lit.'land'), alternatively spelled Zamin, is an Urdu novel by Pakistani novelist and short story writer Khadija Mastoor. The novel was published posthumously by Idara-e-Farogh-e-Urdu in 1983.[2] Daisy Rockwell, PhD, translated it into English and released it in July 2019 under the title A Promised Land.[3][4] Zameen depicts the economic and political upheaval that entailed the partition of British India.[5] It begins at the final setting of Mastoor's first novel Aangan – the Walton refugee camp in Lahore. Consequently, it is sometimes considered an extension of Aangan, however, Rockwell has clarified that it is not a narrative sequel, rather a philosophical and thematic follow-up.[6][7] It is considered a political allegory and a women-centric historical account of Pakistan's independence.[8]


Zameen's main characters are:[6][8]

  • Sajida (Sājidah) – the intelligent protagonist. After migrating to Pakistan, she lives with her father at a refugee camp.
  • Nazim (Nāẓim) – a Department of Rehabilitation official at the camp who insists Sajida to live at his home with him and his family
  • Saleema (Salīmah) – a passionate student, Nazim's female cousin
  • Kazim (Kāẓim) – Nazim's amoral and feudalistic brother


Critic and fiction writer Muhammad Ahsan Farooqi found the novel rich in Mastoor's style of dialogue writing and exposition. Writing about Zameen in his essay "Āṅgan Par Ek Naẓar" (transl. A Look at Aangan) he said, "Where she has used other literary devices to develop the story and the characters against a specific backdrop, she has also taken great care of speech and style." Farooqi compared her storytelling skill to that of Jane Austen.[9]

Khadija Mastoor ... has possibly surpassed all the male and female novelists, with the exception of Qurratul Ain Haider, with her first novel Aangan ... which is a rare example of artistic creation. In her perfection of art she comes close to Jane Austen. Her second novel Zameen, a posthumous publication, is quite good but it is not comparable to Aangan.

— Nazeer Siddiqi, Reflections on Life and Literature (1994)[10]

In his book, Muhammad Naseem said that the author had presented the issues of the establishment of Pakistan and the migration with impartiality and skill.[11] She has very well represented the feelings of a woman. Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi wrote in his article, "The way Aangan's Aaliya and Zameen's Sajida dominate their environment, could it be Khadija's own personality trait? But in my opinion, even more than her personality, it is Khadija's subconscious desire to see the woman dignified, which is embodied in Aaliya and Sajida."[12]

Shaista Hameed attested that the author wrote "every single line of her novels with blood, sweat, and tears".[13] The novel is considered a specimen of her skill of making prose memorable, without being idealistic or mixing lies in it.[14]

Reviewing A Promised Land in Dawn, Asif Farrukhi called Zameen a "neglected novel", while called it "Khadija Mastur's neglected masterpiece" when it republished the article.[3][15] Lalitha Subramanian noted in the Deccan Herald the absence of biterness towards India and recommending the novel to Indian readers, appreciated the Pakistani author's regard for Mahatma Gandhi.[6]


  1. ^ Akhtar, Syed Javed (1997). Urdū kī Nāvil Nigār K͟havātīn: Taraqqī Pasand Taḥrīk se Daur-i Ḥāz̤ir Tak اردو کی ناول نگار خواتین: ترقی پسند تحریک سے دور حاظر تک (in Urdu). Lahore: Sang-e-Meel Publications. p. 91. OCLC 39649991. Retrieved 13 March 2021.
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b Farrukhi, Asif (31 August 2019). "Daisy Rockwell's translation of 'Zameen', Khadija Mastur's neglected masterpiece, gives it new life". Retrieved 4 March 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ "Bio". Daisy Rockwell. n.d. Retrieved 27 February 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ Parekh, Rauf (30 October 2016). "The dawn of a new era". Dawn. Retrieved 27 February 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. ^ a b c Subramanian, Lalitha (3 November 2019). "Post-partition pangs". Deccan Herald. Retrieved 6 March 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b Whitehead, Andrew (7 September 2019). "'A Promised Land' review: Sajidah and her sisters". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 11 March 2021.
  9. ^ Farooqi, Dr Ahsan (January–February 1984). Qasmi, Ahmad Nadeem (ed.). "آنگن پر ایک نظر". Funoon (in Urdu). Lahore (Khadija Mastoor Number), cited in Fatima, Ghazala (27 October 2017). "خدیجہ مستور کی فکری اساس اور اردو ناول نگاری". National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language Blog (in Urdu). Retrieved 11 March 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. ^ Ṣiddīqī, Naẓīr (1994). Reflections on Life and Literature. Islamabad, Pakistan: Sana Publications. p. 29. Retrieved 11 March 2021.
  11. ^ Naseem, Muhammad (2002). اردو ناول پر تقسیم ھند کے المیے کے اثرات (in Urdu). p. 71. OCLC 51172421. Retrieved 12 March 2021.
  12. ^
  13. ^ H̤amīd, Ḍākṭar Śāʼistah (February 2014). "اردو ناول کے رنگارنگ موضوعات". Akhbar-e-Urdu. Islamabad: National Language Promotion Department. Retrieved 12 March 2021.
  14. ^ Zaffar, Abdul Hafeez (1 May 2017). "K͟hadījah Mastūr kā fan hameśah zindah rahe gā, un ke nāvil "Āṅgan" ko kabhī farāmoś nahīṅ kīyā jā saktā" خدیجہ مستور کا فن ہمیشہ زندہ رہے گا، ان کے ناول "آنگن" کو کبھی فراموش نہیں کیا جا سکتا. Daily Dunya (in Urdu). Retrieved 12 March 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  15. ^ Farrukhi, Asif (25 August 2019). "Fiction: A Promise Gone Sour". Dawn. Retrieved 12 March 2021.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

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