The week in reading 18/15

Although the intentions are good, I have been failing in my resolve for a Sunday post. And of course, pace of reading has fallen off as the winter has waned and summer takes over. Travel, host of commitments and these days, a bit of late evening TV has slowed the progress.

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This is the book I finished this week. I enjoyed the first book of his that I read – Maps for Lost Lovers – a few years ago. It was a very sensitive portrayal of the conflicts of cultures within the  immigrant Pakistani community in UK. The other two which I read most recently were ‘The wasted vigil’ and ‘The blind man’s garden’,  both set in post 9/11 Afghanistan. Both these had compelling stories of the tragedies of war and how it affects lives.

‘Season of the Rainbirds’ had a completely different flavor. It is set in small town Pakistan in 1982, at the height of the dictatorship of Zia-ul-Haq. It is a short novel, about a bunch of letters which were lost 19 years previously in a train accident and get miraculously recovered. The anxious waiting, the unexpected events and their links to these old letters,  the politics of the times and the subtle shift to a more radical  Islam are brought out beautifully in an understated manner. The language is crisp and although the ‘Sister-ji’ and the ‘Brother-ji’ jars, the cultural nuances are well put forth and does not jar too often as they tend to do.

I have started  the hard copy of ‘Turkestan solo’ by Ella Maillart and ‘American Pastoral’ by Philip Roth on my Kindle. The latter is part of my ‘Times’ 100 books project. Of all the many lists of the type that float around, I found this one closest to my liking. And I could tick of almost 40 as read – and so I decided to use it as a baseline and try to cover the unread ones – and maybe re-read some of the ones I have read a long tie ago. And the first one I picked was Philip Roth, who’s Portnoy’s Complaint was one of my father’s favorite books. I remember trying to read at a young age, and not getting very far. So Also, for a variety of reasons, I read less American fiction that other kinds.  So, while I’m not setting any targets, I will use this as a guide to read non-contemporary writing.

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