My father bought this book last year and I took it along as a light read on a recent trip. And boy, was I glad I did!
I must start though, by stating that if you’re into Urdu shayari deeply, this book does not have much to offer you. You would already know the life and times of most Urdu poets and would be well versed in their celebrated works. At most, you might come across a few, lesser known poets and maybe enjoy their works.
As an introduction to Urdu poetry however, this book is invaluable. It is not dense, nor technical, nor hard to understand. The language is accessible, the translations lucid, the style of writing engaging and personable. Every poet in the book gets a short introduction, with maybe a delightful little anecdote thrown in. The ghazals are chosen with care, and while they might not always be the most famous or best known creations of the authors, do serve to highlight the poet’s style and method of expression.
The Taste of Words is written entirely in English, even the original verse is presented in the English script. The book is oriented to a reader with little to no understanding of the genre and maybe even the language, and the choice of script emphasizes this.
The Taste of Words is a wonderful entryway into the glorious world of Urdu shayari. If you are intrigued by this art and have always felt overawed by the difficult language, the convoluted idioms, the ornate phraseology, and the even more obscure translations you have come across in other books, this is the book for you. And if after reading this book, you are still not fascinated with Urdu shayari, you can safely conclude that Urdu shayari and you aren’t meant to be. 🙂