The Country Without a Post Office

by Agha Shahid Ali

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Critical Overview

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 195

Reviewers of The Country Without a Post Office universally praised the collection. Writing for Publishers Weekly, for example, Dulcy Brainard and Sybil Steinberg note Ali’s precarious emotional predicament in having to endure his native country’s turmoil from afar, writing, “We find lyric strained to its limit” in his poems. Daniel Guillory agrees. In his review of the collection for Library Journal, Guillory observes, “The book is a poignant, nostalgic evocation of Kashmir, Ali’s homeland. . . . Kashmiri myth and culture hang like a tapestry around the poems.” Eric Bryant also reviewed the book for Library Journal. Bryant calls the collection a “poignant, nostalgic evocation of Kashmir” and claims, “With the population decimated and the post office destroyed, Ali’s poems become ‘cries like dead letters,’ and the poet becomes ‘keeper of the minaret.’” When Ali died, a number of Indian media carried his obituary, noting the popularity of the collection. Rukun Advani, for example, writing for telhelca.com, said, “The violence . . . [in Kashmir] affected him deeply, personally and as an artist.” It shaped him, ironically, to write some of his finest poems, such as the title poem in The Country Without a Post Office.

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Essays and Criticism