Masud, Naiyer 1936-

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Masud, Naiyer 1936-
(Syed Naiyer Masud)


Born November 16, 1936, in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India; son of Masud Hasan and Husn Jahan Rizvi; married Sabeeha Khatoon Rizvi, September 30, 1971; children: Timsal, Durdana, Saima, Samra. Education: Lucknow University, India, B.A., 1953, M.A., 1955, Ph.D., 1966; Allahabad University, India, D.Phil., 1965. Religion: Muslim. Hobbies and other interests: Painting, gardening, origami.


Home—Adabistan Din Dayal Rd., Lucknow 226003, India. Agent—c/o Katha Sarvodaya, A3 Sarvodaya Enclave, Sri Aurobindo Marg, New Delhi 110017, India.


Islamia College, Bareilly, India, lecturer in Urdu and Persian studies, 1965; Lucknow University, Lucknow, India, lecturer in Persian, 1965-78, reader in Persian, 1978-91, professor of Persian, 1990-97, head of Persian department, until 1997. Program adviser for India radio, Lucknow, India, 1995.


Iftikhar-E-Meer award, Meer Academy, 1993, for Rajab Ali Beg Surur; Katha award, 1993; Urdu Akademi award, for Simiya: afsane; Sahitya Akademi Award, 2001; Ghalib Award, 2003; President of India Award.


Rajab Ali Beg Surur, [Lucknow, India], 1967.

(Tabir-i Ghalib) (criticism), 1973.

(Translator) Franz Kafka, Kafka Ke Afsaney (short stories), 1979.

Dulha Sahib Uruj (biographies), Urdu Pablisharz (Lucknow, India), 1980.

Khutut-i mashahir bah nam Sayyid Masud Hasan Rizvi intikhab, tartib, tahshiyah (correspondence), Uttar Pradesh Urdu Akadmi (Lucknow, India), 1985.

Simiya: afsane (short stories), Qausain (Lucknow, India), 1987.

Marsiyah khvani ka fan (history criticism), Maghribi Pakistan Urdu, 1989.

Itri kafur, afsane (short stories), Naiyer Masud (Lucknow, India), 1990.

Yaganah, ahval o asar (criticism), Anjuman Taraqqi-yi Urdu, Hind, (New Delhi, India), 1991.

The Essence of Camphor, selected and edited by Muhammad Umar Memon, Katha (New Delhi, India), 1998.

Taus caman ki maina: afsane (short stories), Nayyar Masud (Lucknow, India), 1998.

Marikah-yi Anis va Dabir (criticism), Muhammadi Ejukeshan aind Pablikeshan (Karachi, Pakistan), 2000.

Anis: savanih (biography), Qaumi Kaunsil barae Furogh-I Urdu Zaban (New Delhi, India), 2002.

(Editor) Shifauddaulah ki sarguzasht (biography), Uttar Pradesh Urdu Akadmi (Lucknow, India), 2004.

Snake Catcher (short stories), translated from Urdu by Muhammad Umar Memon, Interlink Books (Northampton, MA), 2005.

The Myna from Peacock Garden (short story), translated by Sagaree Sengupta, illustrated by Premola Ghose, Katha (New Delhi, India), 2005.

Also contributor and/or editor of books, including Intikhab-i Bustan-i hikmat, Uttar Pradesh Urdu Akadmi (Lucknow, India), 1988; Bazm-i Anis: intikhab-i marasiyi Anis (poetry selections), 1990; and Sota Jagta (juvenile play), Uttar Pradesh Urdu Akadmi (Lucknow, India), 2004. Essence of Camphor has been translated into Finnish and French.


Naiyer Masud is a well-known Urdu short-story writer and scholar in India who writes both for adults and children. The author is noted primarily for his characterizations and command of language, rather than for his stories, which can seem obtuse to many readers. He also relies heavily on the readers' senses, writing stories that evoke not only sights but also smells and sounds. "Perhaps the best word to describe both the style and content of Masud's short stories is ‘elusive,’" wrote Carlo Coppola in World Literature Today. Coppola continued, "Masud's highly evocative, sensuous stories, often told as remembrances of a long-ago childhood, are unique in contemporary Urdu short-story writing."

Masud's first collection of short stories to be translated into English is The Essence of Camphor, titled after the first story in the collection, which features a narrator who uses a camphor base to make perfumes. The collection features seven stories in all and a variety of fantastical tales. For example, in "Sheesha Ghat" a boy becomes enamored with a young girl who has lived her entire life on a boat only to see her mythic stature dissolve when she attempts to walk on water and sinks. In another story, "Myna from the Peacock Garden," a poor man tries to take a myna bird for his daughter from the royal palace where he is a gardener.

Writing in the Library Journal, Faye A. Chadwell called the stories collected in The Essence of Camphor "Kafkaesque," and noted that the author's "writing offers a rich display for all of the senses." Mary Ellen Quinn wrote in Booklist that "this collection is a great service to American readers," and a Publishers Weekly contributor commented: "Like all true connoisseurs of the fantastic, Masud's talent is for finding just those symbols that will convey the obscure oppression of claustrophobia."

Eleven of Masud's stories are translated and presented in Snake Catcher. Many of the stories here are melancholy and stoic in nature, such as "Weather Vane," which relates how a young boy and his dying father deal with mortality by focusing their attention on a broken weather vane. Other stories explore forbidden and unrequited love, madness, and the vagrancies and oddities of family life. Debbie Bogenschutz, writing in the Library Journal, commented that the author "offers unusual stories and good storytelling." A Kirkus Reviews contributor wrote: "Masud's compelling, sometimes obscure stories do not always fully reward the reader's attention. But they're usually as hard to forget as they are to comprehend."



Booklist, March 1, 2000, Mary Ellen Quinn, review of The Essence of Camphor, p. 1195.

Boston Globe, April 5, 2000, Bill Marx, review of The Essence of Camphor.

Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 2005, review of Snake Catcher, p. 1250.

Library Journal, February 15, 2000, Faye A. Chadwell, review of The Essence of Camphor, p. 201; January 1, 2006, Debbie Bogenschutz, review of Snake Catcher, p. 107.

Los Angeles Times, August 22, 2000, Michael Harris, review of The Essence of Camphor.

Publishers Weekly, March 27, 2000, review of The Essence of Camphor, p. 54.

World Literature Today, winter, 2000, Carlo Coppola, review of The Essence of Camphor.


Annual of Urdu Studies, (April 21, 2006), brief biography of the author.