When Hazel Selzer Kahan’s parents left their homes in Germany and Poland in the early 1930s to study medicine in Rome, they envisioned spending the rest of their lives helping patients in Europe. But as Fascist governments deepened their hold in both Germany and Italy during their medical studies, Hermann and Kate Selzer did not see a future as Jewish doctors in Europe, at least for the time being. Hermann sailed to India, thinking it would be safe to live under the British. In 1937, he traveled from city to city in India, looking for a hospital that would take in a couple of Jewish doctors. When he finally reached Lahore, he found acceptance. Kate joined him six months later and a couple years after that Selzer Kahan would be born, followed by her brother Michael two years later.

Radio for the Millions: Hindi-Urdu Broadcasting Across Borders, Isabel Huacuja Alonso (Columbia University Press, January 2023) Columbia University Press
Radio for the Millions: Hindi-Urdu Broadcasting Across Borders, Isabel Huacuja Alonso (Columbia University Press, January 2023)

From news about World War II to the broadcasting of music from popular movies, radio played a crucial role in an increasingly divided South Asia for more than half a century. Radio for the Millions examines the history of Hindi-Urdu radio during the height of its popularity from the 1930s to the 1980s, showing how it created transnational communities of listeners.

Coming from a literary family, Hajra Masroor and her sister Khadija have been referred to as the Brontë sisters of Urdu fiction. While Khadija was known for her novels, Hajra was a writer of short fiction and plays. A new translation of a collection of Hajra Masroor’s work, The Monkey’s Wound and Other Stories, by translator Tahira Naqvi, now gives English readers an opportunity to read eighteen of her stories, all centered around the hardships of being a woman in pre-Partition India and the new state of Pakistan. Masroor lived from 1929 to 2012 and started writing in the early 1940s, several years before Partition.

Sorayya Khan has published a number of novels that touch upon her family background—as the daughter of a Pakistani father and a Dutch mother—and the 1970s Pakistan of her youth. In her latest book, however, she turns to non-fiction and writes a family memoir, the content of which has informed her previous works of fiction. We Take Our Cities With Us is a heartfelt love story not just of her parents, but also of the places where Khan and her family have lived.

The history of India and Pakistan since Partition has been marked by countless skirmishes—and four major wars. The second conflict—the 1965 war between India and Pakistan along the long land border—featured some of the largest tank battles since the Second World War and some of the first skirmishes between the Indian and Pakistani air forces. It reshaped regional and global geopolitics, pushing India closer to the Soviet Union and Pakistan closer to China.

Shiv Kunal Verma, an acclaimed historian and filmmaker, has written an encyclopedic history of the 1965 India-Pakistan War, which began when Pakistan attacked Indian forces in the Rann of Kutch in April 1965, stalled as a result of a temporary ceasefire brokered by the British, and restarted in August when Pakistan launched Operation Gibraltar by crossing the Ceasefire Line (CFL) into Indian Kashmir, and formally ended on 10 January 1966, when the Soviet Union mediated a peace agreement in Tashkent.

Following a long period of exile in the Western suburbs, Berlin’s Asian collections have returned to the spotlight. Since this autumn, they are on permanent display at the Humboldt Forum, a controversial new museum located in the heart of the German capital. The Forum, named after the Prussian polymaths Alexander and Wilhelm von Humboldt, is conceived as the German equivalent of the British Museum, and houses, apart from temporary exhibitions and the Asian collections, Berlin’s Ethnological Museum.