From Publishers Weekly
A corrupt and powerful judge in a small Pakistani village is killed and, in a seemingly unrelated event, a sack of letters thought to have disappeared 19 years earlier in a train wreck is belatedly headed toward the same village. The letters and the judge's death bring about a series of tragic events that Aslam, a skillful and highly confident first-novelist, uses to explore the tensions between a traditional Islamic way of life and the secular world. In the following 11 days, as the murder investigation progresses--and as it becomes clear that many powerful people would like the letters simply to vanish--darker, personal tales of passion and betrayal unfold. Aslam segues between various characters: the judge's family; a fundamentalist cleric worried by the transgressions of the local inhabitants and their desire for modern luxuries; the deputy commissioner, who is brazenly involved with a Christian woman; a ruthless, cynical landholder; a crusading journalist reporting on the delivery of the mail packet; and others. When national politics intrude--the president, closely modeled on General Zia, is almost assassinated--the journalist disappears and the whole story comes to a head. Aslam, who was born in Pakistan and now lives in England, lovingly explores the daily rhythms and beauties of the Islamic life of his youth, while providing insight into the turbulent modern history of his native land.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
**'A model of compact, unadorned storytelling OBSERVER **'Vivid and poignant EVENING STANDARD **'An exquisitely turned portrait of small-town life on the sub-continent: it is a real treat DAILY TELEGRAPH **'Poised and troubling THE TIMES
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