Ali, Ahmed (1910–1994) By Singh, Amardeep
Ahmed Ali is one of the pioneers of modernism in the Indian subcontinent. Publishing his works both in Urdu and in English, and with both South Asian and Anglo-American publishing houses, his influence has been transnational in scope, but his major works are deeply rooted in an Islamicate, largely Urdu-speaking cultural milieu. In 1932, Ali collaborated with Sajjad Zaheer on a collection of Urdu short stories called Angarey (Burning Coals), considered by scholars to be the event that instantiated experimental writing on the Indian subcontinent. Angarey was subsequently banned by the British colonial government for its potential to offend Muslims. Ali continued to publish short stories in Urdu throughout the 1930s and in 1936 helped found the All India Progressive Writers Association (AIPWA). However, Ali soon distanced himself from the AIPWA, and in subsequent years he published in both English and Urdu, often translating his own Urdu short stories into English for publication in British and American magazines. In 1940, Ali published what is now considered his most influential work, Twilight in Delhi, in English and with the England-based Hogarth Press. Twilight in Delhi applies stream-of-consciousness techniques to consider the decline of an elite, Urdu-speaking culture in Delhi.