Back in Karachi for his father's funeral, Daanish, a young Pakistani changed by his years at an American university, is entranced by Dia, a fiercely independent heiress to a silk factory in the countryside. Their illicit affair will forever rupture two households and three families, destroying a stable present built on the repression of a bloody past.
In this sweeping novel of modern Pakistan, Uzma Aslam Khan takes us from the stifling demands of tradition and family to the daily oppression of routine political violence, from the gorgeous sensual vistas of the silk farms to the teeming streets of Karachistinking, crumbling, and corrupt.
Khan limns the conflicts between modern Western and traditional Pakistani mores in an intelligent, ambitious novel (her first to be published in the U.S.) about two star-crossed young lovers in contemporary Karachi. Daanish, a journalism student in "Amreeka," as his aunt calls it, returns home to Karachi for the funeral of his beloved father, a prominent, forward-thinking doctor. He catches the eye of a comely Karachi student, Nini, with whom his traditional mother would like him to make an advantageous marriage. But when Daanish meets Nini's best friend, the thoughtful and challenging Dia Monsour, who helps run her family's silk farm, romance blossoms quickly. Their families' disapproval casts a pall over their meetings, though, and Daanish begins to feel uncertain about seeing Dia as the date for his return to America draws closer. Khan's portrayal of life in Karachi, seen from multiple perspectives, is rich and complex, and her supporting characters, such as Salaamat, a young fisherboy who becomes a driver for a group of freedom fighters whose attacks have a deadly impact on Dia's family, add great depth. Khan's frequent flashbacks can be jarring, and the affair between Dia and Daanish is stretched perilously thin as the primary story line, but Khan's prose, ornate yet precise in its discussions of both love and politics, mark her as a truly gifted observer of moments grand and minute. (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.