In The Half Mother, his debut novel, Shahnaz Bashir has attempted to address the issue of involuntary disappearances in Kashmir, which has been engulfed by violent conflict since the late 1980s. The 182-page book focuses on the courageous Haleema, a mother, a daughter and a woman full of hope and the energy to fight against her suffering.

After a childhood of poverty and hardship, Haleema quits education, and her teachers wish her “a very beautiful life.” She grows up and marries a medical assistant. However, in just three months, the “marriage ends in a whimper” when Haleema learns that her husband is having an affair with a nurse. The beauty of life that her teachers had wished for her doesn’t seem likely to be fulfilled.

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