Big news for one of the more prominent desis in magazine publishing: Newsweek managing editor and longtime SAJA member Nisid Hajari has just landed a major deal to write "Midnight's Furies," a dramatic history of the Partition of India and Pakistan, told through the characters of Gandhi, Jinnah, Nehru, Churchill, and Mountbatten. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will be publishing the book, which Hajari says he hopes will help explain how so many of America’s problems in the region today stem from the traumatic birth of South Asia’s two great rivals.
You’ve probably been reading about all the tumult at Newsweek this year—the sale to stereo magnate Sidney Harman, the hiring of Tina Brown as editor-in-chief, the merger with the Daily Beast; Fareed Zakaria's move to Time. You might not have realized that Hajari has been running the magazine since late August as acting co-editor, while also writing several pieces about India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
“Under Tina, this is going to be one of the more exciting places to be in magazines next year,” says Hajari, who plans to leave New York early next year to research the book. “The idea of staying on was tremendously tempting. But I’m really looking forward to digging into this subject, which I think is powerful, timely, and surprisingly, given how much has been written about it, not all that well understood outside the region.”
You’ll probably continue to see Hajari’s byline in Newsweek in the months ahead. As you may know, Brown just hired another SAJA member, Tunku Varadajaran, to oversee Newsweek International - we'll catch up with him soon. Seems like the international editions editor title has a deep South Asian connection. Varadarajan's predecessors include Hajari and Zakaria.
The topic of Hajari's book - due in a couple of years - is fascinating and full of drama. When I last co-taught a Columbia Journalism School class about covering India's religions, we assigned "Freedom at Midnight," the bestselling 1975 book by Dominque Lapierre and Larry Collins. It's nonfiction, though it reads as really gripping fiction. But it has been 35 years since it came out, so I can't wait to see what Hajari finds in his research and what kind of story he tells. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, I'm hoping he'll be on Twitter soon.
Post your comments below. We'll make sure he sees them.
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