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Aamina Ahmad

Författare till The Return of Faraz Ali

3 verk 157 medlemmar 7 recensioner

Verk av Aamina Ahmad

The Return of Faraz Ali (2022) 150 exemplar
The Dishonoured (2016) 5 exemplar


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An investigation into eleven year old Sonia's death haunts policeman Faraz Ali. As a sex worker, she lived in the Mohalla district and whenever Ali visits he has small flashbacks to a time when he was very young and living in the same place. This is a complex plot which jumps backwards and forwards, from the 1930s to the 1970s and with a changing focus from Ali's father, Wajid, to Ali and to his life, with the thread of bringing Sonia's killer to justice running throughout but not taking a straight line.

Taking place during this time is the fight for a free Bangladesh where Ali is viewed as an occupier. Back at home is his sister, Rozina, an aging sex worker worried about money and her daughter and keeping her out of prostitution.

We also have Ali's failing arranged marriage, political machinations and a man constantly looking for his family. It's a book that weaves many things together - loss and longing being the most dominant threads.

. . . because what was loss but the condition of a woman's life.

It's also a book about parents and children, in particular, and their loves and losses with Ahmad often contrasting the two, as for example, when Ali considers his marriage and then the love he has for his daughter.

I found the middle section a little slow-going but stopped myself from jumping over it. Although the book has the feel of a detective story, it is just the vehicle to study class and separation and the fact that where and when we were born can have a lasting impact on us.
… (mer)
allthegoodbooks | 6 andra recensioner | Jan 12, 2024 |
Ugh, the three star reading slump continues. A promising opening, suggesting a dark detective story in the red light district of Lahore, Pakistan, and exemplary research from the author, but not a single sympathetic or engaging character, and there are many. A young boy is taken from his prostitute mother in the Heera Mandi and returns twenty years later to cover up the murder of a young girl at the bequest of his politician father. Faraz's sister, a former actress, is also drawn back to her old life to rescue her young daughter from the dangerous neighbourhood.

More of a drawn out history lesson on the Partition of India and the creation of Pakistan and Bangladesh, plus a great deal of Western tut-tutting over the caste system and mistreatment of women - there's a ridiculous scene where Faraz's sister throws her dupatta into the sea and declares 'I buy my own diamonds!' to an audience of American women - while the pacing is slack and repetitive. I was drawn in by the opening chapters in the Shahi Mohallah, with young Mena jumping from terrace to terrace, but the wartime backstories were drawn out and quite frankly unnecessary - I could gather from dialogue why Faraz's father was in debt to the young girl's killer, and certainly wasn't interested in what made him the way he was.

Historically interesting, dramatically dull.
… (mer)
AdonisGuilfoyle | 6 andra recensioner | Nov 19, 2023 |
This novel is stunning, wholly original (in my experience), fascinating, wonderfully drawn, beautifully written, with rich characters; it left me tearful as I am each time I finish reading an extraordinary book. Aamina Ahmad has given us a treasure of depth & courage covering the life of several very unusual, interconnected people over 40 years in Lahore, Pakistan.
RickGeissal | 6 andra recensioner | Aug 16, 2023 |
[The Return of Faraz Ali] is set between 1968 to 1972, in Lahore and then in East Pakistan. These were years of political upheaval and finally war in Pakistan, after which Western and Eastern Pakistan were divided and East Pakistan became the country of Bangladesh. The novel’s main character, Faraz, is a policeman in Lahore; the story opens as he is leading a police attack on a group of students attempting to listen to a political speech by the liberal politician Bhutto. When Faraz returns to the police station after the fighting, his sleep is interrupted by a phone call from his father Wajid. With much pulling of strings, Wajid has arranged to send him to lead a very sensitive investigation in the Mohalla, the red-light district in Lahore’s walled old city. His task will be to cover up an accident that had resulted in the death of a prostitute, so that the presence at the time, in the vicinity of the crime, of some high ranking government officials need never be known.

The relationship between Faraz and Wajid is not known to anyone else, even Faraz’s wife, since Faraz is the child born from a liaison between his prostitute mother and Wajid that had occurred in the 1940’s, just before Wajid’s service in World War II. It would have been a crippling dishonor for the powerful Wajid, the “senior bureaucrat in the province,” a “general secretary,” to acknowledge a son from the Mohalla. The novel’s initial conflict is created when Faraz, on viewing the body, discovers that the death was in fact not an accident, but clearly murder, and that the victim was an 11-year old child. He reacts with horror and determines to bring justice to the child’s family and to the murderer (while also trying to preserve his own life in a society run by rich and powerful men, who could do whatever to whomever without fear of repercussion). Complicating this fairly standard police thriller material, however, is the urge Faraz also feels to use the opportunity of the assignment to find his mother and sister, whom he has had no contact with since a very young age when Wajid abducted him from the Mohalla in order to give him a better life. Then, to reveal more information about Wajid, the author chooses to move back in time to 1942, to North Africa and Wajid’s war experiences, introducing another plot thread. I found these sections disruptive and a bit tedious, though their relevance was shown at the end.

Ahmad’s writing style is straightforward, usually clear. My understanding, unfortunately, was hindered at times by my lack of background information about Pakistan’shistory. I enjoyed her characterization throughout in particular of the women and other inhabitants of the Mohalla. Firdous, Faraz’s mother, is beautifully developed and the setting itself comes across clearly, its extreme poverty, but also its exotic nature. It is here that the theme of sacrifice emerges. And of course, the novel conveys also the themes of justice/injustice and of the question what constitutes honor.

Overall this was an enjoyable novel, which I rate at 3 stars, meaning that it certainly kept me reading, but I don’t think I will be rereading it.
… (mer)
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dianelouise100 | 6 andra recensioner | Apr 2, 2023 |




½ 3.7

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