From Publishers Weekly
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.
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This sweeping novel of 1990s Pakistan, Khan's first to be published in the U.S., begins with a murder. Dia's father is killed, leaving her mother to run the family's profitable silk farm and textile factories. Most unlikely of all, Dia's mother wants Dia to marry not for social status but for love. Dia's story is interwoven with that of her cook's family, who moved from a coastal village to Karachi in search of work and now lives among wealth but without it. And when middle-class but American-educated Daanish returns to Karachi to bury his father, he and Dia become enmeshed in a love affair that cannot thrive in its setting. Sections of the novel are told from points of view within each of the three families, giving readers insights from a variety of political, religious, and class perspectives. Khan tackles political and religious themes as adroitly as she handles the haunting love story, and what emerges is a brilliant, lush portrait of Karachi, a metropolis teeming with corruption, violence, and social tension. John GreenCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved