Wow, where do I start with this lovely, long novel? Complicated and large in scope, Qaisra Shahraz’s Revolt had me hooked and drawn into the plight of a large family in the rural village of Gulistan in Pakistan. Centred around three sisters, Rani, Mehreen and Gulbahar, and their children and servants, Revolt chronicles the twists and turns of marriages and secret loves, and the ripple effect the choices of the children have on their mothers and fathers and the rest of the village.
I’m not going to lie, Revolt is greatly complicated and there’s a large list of characters. At the start, I had a hard time keeping track of who was who but once I finally got into the swing of it, keeping tabs on relationships between different characters became easier. There were also some tough themes to deal with in this book, like women’s rights, family values and tradition, and as a Western woman I found some of these issues to be frustrating, particularly the issue of arranged marriages.
Shahraz’s writing is very rich and warm, sprinkling words and phrases in the native tongue throughout the book. Don’t let the foreign language put you off; there is a glossary in the back of the book to help with translations!
This was one of those books that I read slowly, pausing in my reading to put the book down and actually reflect on what I’d read. I think I might have even had a dream or two about the characters -it’s that realistic and affecting. I really didn’t want the book to end. I didn’t want to close the cover on Gulbahar, Mehreen and Rani. This book was just rich – in setting, in characters, in everything. There’s no other word to describe this book.
If you’re looking for a total cultural immersion, Revolt is definitely the perfect book for that. I also have Shahraz’s The Holy Woman on my shelf to read and I’m greatly looking forward to it.