Stories about book review

Red Birds: A lament to love, a rant against war and an ode to pacifists

Red Birds is about the destruction that inevitably follows love. Many say this Mohammed Hanif novel is an anatomy of the wars men wage and the carcasses of pain women and their children must sweep up, each with their own indignities, but I don’t. I am sure it is an ode to the unloved. Take Major Ellie for instance, the mediocre white man who is the glorious pilot of a plane that could buy say, a city in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in Pakistan. Ellie wipes out cities with the courage of his right thumb prompted by an X ...

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Mr and Mrs Jinnah: A story of love that wasn’t enough to save an ill-fated marriage

For the masses of the subcontinent (India and Pakistan), Sheela Reddy’s Mr and Mrs Jinnah tells the fascinating tale of a small yet poignant romance that some people might experience in life (if fortunate enough). The book explores some of the most vivid details of the lives of Rattanbai Jinnah (Ruttie) and Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Jinnah’s political stalwart for projecting his career above communal rights, and the doomed marriage that ended in separation despite the unusual love that lived on. Colonialism and the pre-Partition history of the subcontinent still enthrall the minds of both the old and the young. Since the populations of both India ...

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Fictitious yet familiar, ‘Typically Tanya’ narrates life in Karachi and all its dramas

I enjoyed reading the book Typically Tanya by Taha Kehar, one of Pakistan’s most exciting new writers, not just because it’s a book about journalists but because it is a book about life in Karachi, along with all its dramas. Whether it’s the frustrations of finding a Careem to the disappointments that come with power blackouts, it’s all there. Typically Tanya is the story about a young journalist named Tanya Shaukat who is trying to make sense of her work and at the same time coming to terms with her unpredictable life and friends. When the marriage of one friend fails ...

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5 reasons why ‘Homo Deus’ will get under your skin and make you question humanity’s future

If you are lucky, you may come across a book that challenges your assumptions, upends your convictions, and knocks down your indoctrination. If you are really lucky, then the said book may present an alternative and limitless world view of possibilities, generating a warm fuzzy feeling within; perhaps because your assumptions have been challenged, convictions upended, and indoctrination knocked down. I can safely say this has happened to me recently. After several years of sporadic reading of contemporary fiction, creative non-fiction and general non-fiction, I finally had the pleasure of reading Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah ...

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‘The Ministry of Utmost Happiness’: A beautiful kind of chaos

The publication of her first novel, ‘The God of Small Things’, its subsequent Man Booker win, multi-million sales, and the international celebrity status she has since enjoyed are the only impediments in the way of the success of Arundhati Roy’s second novel, ‘The Ministry of Utmost Happiness’. It is a novel as remarkable and dazzling as her first, but it is this unwieldy comparison that dulls its colours and sours its taste. It is a book so different and so far removed from ‘The God of Small Things’ that it feels it’s written by a different writer altogether. Given the 20-year hiatus between the publication of the ...

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The Forty Rules of Love taught me that we’ve been asking ourselves all the wrong questions

It is a well-known belief that God speaks to His people through the strangest of things. You could be sitting quietly, minding your own business, and out of nowhere emerges a sign that seems to be God sent. Or if you were me, you would have been walking around the airport bookshop, waiting for your delayed flight, and by sheer luck found a book peeking at you through the shelf. Generally, I don’t judge books by their covers, or their titles, but this one was different. I fell in love with Elif Shafak’s ‘The Forty Rules of Love’ the moment I saw it. This was despite ...

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White on Green: A reflective recollection of Pakistan’s cricket journey

‘White on Green’ is not a book about the history of cricket in Pakistan and yet it takes up the story through individuals who profoundly influenced the game. It is not a sequel and yet it is, in a way, a prologue to the ‘Wounded Tiger’ by Peter Oborne (2014). One of these fascinating cricketing characters was Prince Aslam, a scion of Juna Garh ruling family, a handy all-rounder who nearly made it to the Test team. A colourful character with partiality for finer spirits, he passed away in his early 40s on account of alcohol addiction. An impression ...

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Reflecting on Raza Rumi’s Identity, Faith, and Conflict

I arrived in the United States a few weeks ago and the first public event I attended was a bit too familiar. In 2013, I went to the launch of Raza Rumi’s book ‘Delhi by Heart’ at the Khayal Festival in Lahore. Four years later, I was in Queens Museum, New York where Rumi’s new book titled ‘Identity, Faith and Conflict: Essays on Pakistan and beyond’ was released. The book is a collection of essays that Rumi has authored over the past few years. It was strange to see that the introduction described Rumi as an “international scholar in residence at Ithaca ...

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A Rage for Order: Painting a crucial portrait of the deeply troubled Arab uprising

Revolutions never seem to bring the happiness they promise. There was no happy conclusion in France in 1789 or Russia in 1917 and neither in Egypt or Libya or Syria in 2011. Instead, if anything, the Middle East has gone from bad – brutal dictatorships built on secret police and theft – to worse; open civil war and genocide. The year 2011 saw a revolution escalate through the Middle East as protesters demanded an end to tyranny, corruption and economic decay. From Egypt to Yemen, a generation of young Arabs insisted on a new culture of common nationality. Five years later, their utopian goals have taken on a darker ...

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Nutshell: In the mind of an unborn foetus

There is nothing quite like the fictions of Ian McEwan in British literature. Though quintessentially ‘English’ in essence, his books are rendered unique, by the shocking precision of language, the wonderful economy of the prose and his macabre explorations of uncharted territories. McEwan’s books are boundless in their depth and beauty, baffling and oblique, and even mystifying in craft, narrative and technique. And though, some of his recent books have been unfortunate missteps, with Nutshell, his latest book, he evokes the haunting resonance and shimmying splendor of his earlier novels such as Enduring Love, Saturday and Atonement. Nutshell is an intelligent and compelling novel that uses Hamlet’s plot as a backdrop and ...

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