Published in 1899, Muhammad Hadi Ruswa's famous novel "Umrao Jaan Ada" created a sensation when it came out, with its candid fictionalized account of the life of Umrao Jaan, based on a renowned Lucknow courtesan and poetess of the same name. Considered by many to be the first Urdu novel, it remains highly popular today and has been the basis of three films and a Pakistani television serial. But despite Ruswa's notoriety, few know that a month after he wrote "Umrao Jaan Ada", he penned a sly novella entitled "Junun-e-Intezar", in which "Umrao" avenges herself on her creator, Ruswa, by narrating the story of his life. Blurring the lines between truth and fiction, narrator and character, this clever narrative strategy gives the courtesan a voice. While "Umrao Jaan Ada" is still celebrated, "Junun-e-Intezar" has been completely forgotten - until now. The "Madness of Waiting" redresses this imbalance, featuring both the Urdu original and a superb English translation. The book also includes a critical introduction that rethinks "Umrao Jaan Ada" and the Urdu literary milieu of the late-nineteenth-century Lucknow courtesan.
Muhammad Hadi Ruswa (1857-1931) was an Urdu poet and writer of fiction and plays as well as scholarly works on religion, philosophy, and astronomy. Krupa Shandilya is assistant professor of women's and gender studies at Amherst College in Massachusetts. Taimoor Shahid is an independent scholar and translator. He works on Urdu literature, archival research, and South Asian cinema.