Thursday, November 5, 2009

Tales of Loss

Broken Verses by Kamila Shamsie is the tale of a twenty-something Pakistani girl, the daughter of a famous activist. Aasmani's mother disappeared amid despair over the death of her lover, the Poet, while Aasmani was a young teenager. Aasmani’s name recognition lands her a job at a television company and her uncanny resemblance to her mother, Samina, causes others to expect greatness. She struggles with the expectations and her sense of abandonment with a sharp tongue and a cynical attitude. At the television company she meets the son of her mother’s friend, the beloved and famous actress Shehnaz Saeed, who also feels the pressure of having a well-known parent. They are drawn together in a mystery that brings Aasmani the hope that she may find her mother and restore the broken pieces of her heart.

Filled with the language of poetry, Shamsie depicts a post-9/11 Pakistan filled with loss and sadness, and glimmers of hope. Aasmani’s journey through her loss mirrors that of the country’s loss of freedom, as did the Poet’s love for her mother and country cause him to cry out against the injustices of government. Aasmani’s sharpness and rudeness to others reflect the anger and pain she feels over the loss of her mother and father-figure, similar to the way that the country currently refuses to back down to American demands. No one wants to be taken advantage of or pushed around. In the end, the courage to face the future and determine her steps back to wholeness bring freedom and lightness back to Aasmani.

This is a timely novel, and one I highly recommend to any who would like to know more about the people of Pakistan. I also recommend Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi and Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi for a better understanding of the people of Iran. I believe that the people of America and all the countries of the Middle East need to understand each other and be able to relate so that we can establish a lasting peace between us.

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