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Fouad Khan is a writer and environmental consultant based in Karachi, Pakistan. A Fulbright alumnus, he holds advanced degrees in Environmental and Civil Engineering. His consultancy work has had him walking deserts in southern Pakistan and wading bayous in urban Texas. He's been involved in environmental projects for international bureaucracies and energy conglomerates and his opinion pieces have appeared regularly in popular magazines in Pakistan.
Fouad Khan is a writer and environmental consultant based in Karachi, Pakistan. A Fulbright alumni, he holds degrees in Environmental and Civil Engineering. His consultancy work has had him walking deserts in southern Pakistan and wading bayous in urban Texas. He's been involved in projects for some of the world's largest international bureaucracies and energy giants and to this day regrets the episodes. His opinion pieces have appeared in popular periodicals in Pakistan from time to time.
First of all, the verisimilitude makes me doubt that this is fiction at all. This reads like a true account of what this guy went through while getting his education and getting mad laid. If anything, this could be a fictionalization rather than pure fiction.
I couldn't put the book down because it provides this odd outsider perspective on Americans, Americana and the American way of life. It's odd because it's straight forward and direct to the point of sounding naïve. Little customs such as the practice of ironically calling long lost acquaintances "stranger" are analyzed and dissected. Sweeping statements are then made about the nature of American society and life based on these analyses of the minutiae. What's stranger still is the insight and accuracy these observations contain. They make you look at life and the people around you in a completely different way.
Then there's the engrossing portrait of the young terrorist in the character of Ishmael. In long tirades mourning essentially the loss of human innocence in industrial society, Ishmael takes apart everything from modern architecture to the Vegas kitsch. You see where he's coming from, but then you see that hate, pure-unadulterated-terrorism-grade-hate, is often little more than love denied.
The writing varies from sloppy to brilliant and apart from the title character Katrina, none of the characters bounce at you from the pages, they remain two dimensional. But the book is un-put-down-able in its crassness; like amateur porn it is insightful in its rawness and has high points that are often unintentional.Read more ›
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This brief but complex work can be viewed as a coming of age story, a stranger in a strange land tale, a terrorist thriller, or simply a ribald sexual romp, and it is all of these. But woven into the larger story is an important scientific hypothesis.
Why is the brightest species on the planet in crisis? Why do our present actions threaten our very future?
Although the book is described as a work of total fiction, many of the details reported in the story ring amazingly true. I suspect the story is a mixture of both truth and fiction.
All of the following is true. Fouad Khan was born and bred in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. He was a graduate student at the University of Houston in 2005-2007. Fouad was in America on a Fulbright scholarship to pursue a PhD degree in Environmental Engineering. For his thesis and research, he did study the population dynamics of hydrocarbon-eating bacteria.
The story presented in the novel, describes the activities, thoughts, conversations, and research of a fictional graduate student who by coincidence also attends the University of Houston and is named Fouad Khan. In the process of this experience, Fouad discovers what he believes is an important truth about living populations. He titles his thesis: On the Extinction of Species: Finding Sustainability in the Patterns of Life and Death.
If he is correct, and I believe that he is, then he has discovered the scientific basis for our present human crisis.
Crisis is always the harbinger of an overwhelming problem. Fortunately, crisis has two components--Danger and Opportunity. When faced with crisis, there is almost always a window of opportunity, when intelligent action can avert most or at least some of the danger of the crisis.Read more ›
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