Sunday, October 29, 2017



The theme for 2017 is WATCHING.

Out of Print invites works that examine what it means to watch or be watched in complexities ranging from violation to tenderness, from the personal to the political.

The stories will be judged by the Out of Print editorial team represented by Indira Chandrasekhar and Ram Sadasiv.

The winning story will receive a prize of Rs 20,000 and four finalists will receive Rs 10,000 each.

All five stories will be published in the DNA print spread ‘Just Before Monday’.

Prizewinners will also be published online in DNA’s e-paper and on the Out of Print blog along with shortlisted works. The Out of Print editorial team will work with each author on one round of editing before publication.

Last date for submissions, Sunday, 19 November, midnight IST.
Longlist, December 3.
Shortlist, December 10.
5 finalists, December 17.
Publication of winning and shortlisted stories, December 17.

Submission Guidelines:
Submitted works must be original, in English, previously unpublished, and close to 2000 words in length.
Only one submission per writer will be read. Finalists from the last two DNA-OUT OF PRINT short story competitions will not be considered.
Submissions should be cut and pasted into the body of an email and sent to Subject line should read DNA-Out of Print 2017.
A short biographical note of 150-200 words should be cut and pasted below the story.
No attachments will be read.

If you have not heard from us by Sunday 17 December, it means, unfortunately, that your piece has not been chosen.

Past winners:
Dissent’, 2016
Erosion’, 2015
Choice’, 2014

Out of Print 28

Urdu does not lack for lovers. Tens of millions of people across the subcontinent and, indeed, around the world, would agree with Gulzar in saying that the language gives you a high, that it goes down your throat like a gulp of wine[1]. Much of the love has been apportioned by poetry but fiction too has its fair share of fans.

Short story writing, called 'afsana-nigari' in Urdu, is a relatively new form, just over a century old and the wealth of theme and narrative innovation has only grown since. The literary cannon in this genre includes names like Premchand, Rajinder Singh Bedi, Qurratulain Hyder, Krishan Chander, Naiyer Masud, and of course, Saadat Hasan Manto and Ismat Chugtai, who have been widely translated, published and performed in recent years. Happily, with new translations appearing every year, more work has become accessible to readers in English.

We hope that this 28th issue of Out of Print, devoted to Urdu short fiction, featuring a select set of translations, will be as much of a journey of discovery and as much of a joy to read as it has been for the editors.

Dhanpat Rai who wrote first as Nawab Rai, and later as Munshi Premchand, is among the foremost writers of his generation, or indeed, all generations since. His stories are often prescribed on school syllabi for his canny ability to observe the world with innocent eyes. Qazzazi, translated by Fatima Rizvi, is the story of a child's friendship with the man who delivered the post and told marvellous tales.

In contrast, Abdullah Hussain's Spring, translated by Raza Naeem, gives us an old man's view of his own life. What happens when a retired Brigadier with an unwavering sense of routine meets a younger man while he's out on a walk?

Shaukat Hayat's Pigeons of the Dome, translated by Sara Rai, appears to offer a delicate portrait of a genteel existence, filled with children, pigeons, snakes, cats and rakish friends, only to disrupt it with the evidence of more troubling strands of lust and undefined damage.

Animals feature again in Azra Abbas' The Chameleon's Game, translated by Daisy Rockwell. Told from the point of view of a chameleon, this story uses just a few deft strokes to change colour, from innocuous to distressing. 

Intizar Hussain's Reserved Seat, translated by Rakhshanda Jalil, delves into the world of dreams and portents through the familiar character of Badi Boo who, as much as she is ready to depart, is still quite tangled in her earthly affections.

Ali Akbar Natiq's The Graveyard, translated by Ali Madeeh Hashmi, delves into the politics of burials in a village, access to land, and exposes the way feudalism and class distinction undercuts every aspect of life, including death.

Guest Editor: Annie Zaidi

Other translations of Urdu work available on Out of Print are two from the fantastical Tilism-e-Hoshruba, the first by Musharraf Ali Farooqi and the other by Shahnaz Aijazuddin, as well Firduas Haider’s The Cow translated by Nighat Gandhi.

[1] Gulzar, on the beauty of Urdu, recited at the 70th birthday celebration of Jagjit Singh