Rehan Tabassum has grown up in a world of privilege in Delhi. His mother is a successful lawyer and her new husband is a wealthy industrialist whose way of doing business is at the heart of the New India everyone is talking about. But there is a marked absence in Rehan's life: his real father, a Pakistani Muslim who owns a telecommunications empire in Pakistan.Noonfollows Rehan's attempts to negotiate this loss as he journeys, both physically and emotionally, toward the heart of his father's world. From the atavistic scenes of a childhood in Delhi to the city's boom and bust; from an earthquake in Pakistan to threats of violence in the sinister city of Port Bin Qasim; from the lives of servants at home in Delhi to blackmail and menace within Rehan's father's company- this extraordinary family saga interrogates the nature of power in two changing countries. Aatish Taseer tells the story of a man who comes of age as his country does, in an atmosphere of political quicksand and moral danger.
Readers of Taseer's memoir, Stranger to History: A Son's Journey Through Islamic Lands, or his previous novel, The Temple-Goers, may be disappointed to find a shocking amount of retread in his latest. It seems less a novel than four loose vignettes from a life split between India and Pakistan, with a postcolonial emphasis on how industrial modernization has isolated the Westernized bourgeoisie from a sometimes resentful underclass. The first episode offers a snapshot from the Delhi childhood of Rehan Tabassum; the second introduces his stepfather, the seething "man of the times" industrialist Amit Sethia; while in the third section, Rehan narrates the investigation of a burglary at the Sethias' estate in which everyone is a suspect. The book's last and strongest part finds the privileged Rehan adjusting to life in the intrigue-ridden household of his estranged Pakistani birth father, powerless to control the ingrained scandalous class fissures in the aftermath of the 2005 earthquake in Kashmir. There are incisive depictions of believers entwined with moguls beholden to American interests, but overall, while the prose has a hypnotic old-fashioned fluidity, there is a distinctly deleted-scenes feel, leaving what ought to be the most stirring characters blank and the most revealing details unarticulated. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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Faber & Faber
September 13, 2011
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