The Break of Dawn – Khan Mahboob Tarzi, Translated from the Urdu by Ali Khan Mahmudabad


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It is the searing month of June. The rebellion against the British has just begun and Awadh is up in flames. Hindus and Muslims have joined hands to overthrow the foreign rulers and set India free. Some Indian rulers have started to enter into alliances to fight the firangis, while others have thrown in their lot with the foreigners. Amid all this, Riyaz Khan, a young solider from the army of the Raja of Mahmudabad, saves a group of Britishers from fellow ‘mutineers’ and escorts them to the safety of Lucknow. In this group is Alice, who falls in love with Riyaz and eventually becomes an informer for the rebels.

The Break of Dawn, originally published in Urdu under the title Aghaaz-e-Sahar, is a thrilling page-turner and a reminder of a time when Indians of all classes and creeds came together to fight for the honour and freedom of their homeland.

About the Author

Khan Mahboob Tarzi (d. 1960) was a novelist and writer from Lucknow. Educated in Aligarh, Tarzi had a number of interests and careers. He was briefly a supervisor in a locksmith factory, did a stint in the army, tried his hand at film-making and directing at Kardar Studios in Calcutta, followed his interest in translating and journalism, and was also involved in in theatre and radio. In the latter part of his life, he lived in Lucknow and worked at the Naseem Book Depot for many years. Writing stories and novels remained his passion throughout his life, and he wrote more than 100 novels on history, politics, society, science fiction and romance.

Ali Khan Mahmudabad teaches history and political science at Ashoka University, India. He is a political scientist, historian, writer, columnist and an occasional poet. He completed his MPhil and PhD from the University of Cambridge. His first book, Poetry of Belonging: Muslim Imaginings in India 1850-1950, was published by Oxford University Press in 2020. He has travelled extensively in the Middle East and writes a fortnightly column for the Urdu national daily Inqilab. He also writes for a number of English-language magazines and newspapers. He tweets at @mahmudabad.


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