Saturday, July 16, 2016

Pakistan: The Shadow of the Crescent Moon, by Fatima Bhutto

This debut novel relates the events that unfold over the course of one morning in Mir Ali,a Pakistani town in a province near the Afghan border. It is the festival of Eid. Three brothers go their separate ways to pray, as it is not safe in these turbulent times for them all to gather in one mosque.

Aman Erum is a business man recently returned from study in America to be with his dying father. Sikander is a doctor in the vastly under-resourced local hospital. Hayat, the youngest, is an idealist student. Sikander's wife Mina is grieving the death of their son. And then there is the young girl Samarra, formerly expected to marry Anam Erum, but now estranged from him for reasons that gradually become revealed.

This book is well crafted and full of suspense as events unfold towards their conclusion - which is no less powerful for the understated conclusion, which leaves us wondering exactly what happens.

Fatima Bhutto is the daughter of a Pakistani father and Afghan mother. Her father was the brother of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto who was assassinated in 2007. It was politics that kept her father in exile for many years and the reason why she was born in Kabul and grew up in Damascus with her father and his second wife, a Lebanese ballet teacher. She now lives in Karachi.

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