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Through the device of a trek from Gulmarg to the frozen lake of Al- Patthar high up in the Himalayas across the span of two days, Sorrow of the Snows lays bare the life and daily ordeals of a peasant labourer Hasandeen, who rents out horses to visitors and trekkers. Hasandeen s story of deprivation and helplessness gradually evolves into the story of every poor farmer in India who rests the responsibility of his happiness or sorrows on the shoulders of God. Although set at a time before the present unrest in Kashmir began, Ashk s novella hints boldly at the impending political storm which overtook Kashmir less than a decade later. Published first in 1957 and told with great insight, Sorrow of the Snows is a satirical yet compassionate account of the exploitation and oppression of the toiling masses of the nation.
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Upendra Nath Ashk (1910 96) is acclaimed as one of the most controversial authors of the Hindi Urdu tradition. He has written over a hundred books in almost all genres of literature. His magnum opus, Girti Deewaaren, written in seven volumes, is hailed as an epic of Indian middleclass life. Ashk has been widely translated. He was the first Hindi dramatist to receive the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1965. He also received the Soviet Land Nehru Award (1972) and Iqbal Award (1996).
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