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Trespassing [Paperback]

Uzma Aslam Khan
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
RRP: £11.99
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Book Description

8 July 2010

A world-class tale of love and deceit, rivalry and destiny from the Lahore-based writer Uzma Aslam Khan.

'Standing in a room with eight thousand tiny creatures, witnessing them perform a dance that few humans even knew occurred; this was life. Everywhere she looked, each caterpillar nosed the air like a wand and out passed silk… When Dia watched one spin, she came closer to understanding the will of God than at any other time.'

Dia is the daughter of a silk farmer, Riffat – an innovative, decisive businesswoman. Like her mother, Dia seems at first sight unrestricted, spirited and resourceful. She seems free. But freedom has its own borders, patrolled by the covetous and the zealous, and there are those who yearn to jump the fence.

Daanish has come back to Karachi for his father’s funeral, all the way from America, a land where there are plenty of rules but few restrictions. When Dia and Daanish meet, they chafe against all the formalities. It is left to a handful of silkworms, slipped inside a friend’s dupatta, tickling skin, to rupture the fragile peace of both their houses – to make the space in which Dia and Daanish can create something together…

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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; (Reissue) edition (8 July 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007152787
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007152780
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 2.3 x 12.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 95,147 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Uzma Aslam Khan was born in Lahore and grew up in Karachi, Pakistan. She is the author of four novels, including Trespassing, The Geometry of God, and, most recently, Thinner than Skin. Trespassing was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize Eurasia 2003. The Geometry of God was voted one of Kirkus Reviews' Best Books of 2009 and won a bronze medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2010. Thinner than Skin was longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize 2012 and the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2014. Her novels have been translated worldwide, including in Romania, Brazil, France, Spain, Italy, Serbia, Norway, and Sweden.

Khan has also contributed articles to various newspapers and journals around the world, such as to Drawbridge, First City, Dawn, and Counterpunch. Her fiction has appeared in several anthologies and journals, including Granta 112, and The Massachusetts Review. Visit the author at

Product Description


‘A story of cultural and ethnic conflict in spare and elegant prose that resonates beyond its immediate setting’ Observer

‘A haunting and beautiful book’ Glasgow Sunday Mail

‘Original and emotional… as intricately patterned and vivid as lengths of top-quality silk.’ Sunday Telegraph

‘Cocoons are not the only things that explode in this novel. The silken prose emphasises the conflict between the tender subject and a world (in this case Pakistan) where violence of every sort has become institutionalised. It is a self-confident novel and marks the emergence of a new generation of Pakistani novelists unencumbered by the icons or the ideology of a wretched state.’ Tariq Ali

About the Author

Uzma Aslam Khan grew up in Karachi. She is the author of one previous novel, The Story of Noble Rot (2001). She has taught English language and literature in the United States, Morocco, and in Pakistan. Currently she works for an NGO in Lahore, where she lives with her husband.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars beautiful more than clever 23 Sep 2004
By A Customer
I ordered this book from the UK even though the US version is going to be out soon, because I heard some intriguing things about it. What I realize after finishing the book is that it's great not just because of its lyrical prose and passionate storylines, but because it's been a while since I read something this sincere. It will not appeal to those looking for pat breezy one-liners, although, for a pretty big book, it reads surprisingly quickly. But it will appeal to those who want to think, and feel.
Also, it will surprise readers who assume that a book set in a Muslim country will be about Islam. This isn't. It's more about race, class, environmental destruction, forbidden love, and even more forbidden sex. And it's all woven together so smoothly it's easy to lose sight of how many threads this author's tapestry is made with. Take the character Salaamat, for instance. He is one of the indigenous people of Sindh, a southern province of Pakistan. What he suffers at the hands of opportunists both within and without the country, and his subsequent fury, disillusionment, and revenge, is delicately, yet horrifyingly, dealt with. Specially in the context of today, his story begs the question: is he a terrorist, a freedom fighter, or a victim? Then there are steamy scenes on the beach between two young lovers, and there is a hilarious window into Pakistani television.
Overall, a beautiful book, which, unlike a lot of the clever tongue-twisters in the market today, will stay with you a long time after you've read it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars very original, very strong 29 Oct 2004
By A Customer
This is not like other books I've read by Indian and Pakistani authors. It stands on its own. This is not to say that it isn't about the place; it is, specifically, about Karachi during the turbulent 80s. But the story and the very accessible and intimate style its told in resonates beyond its own borders in a way that not all subcon literature -- in fact, not all literature -- does for me, especially these days. Trespassing is charged, even fierce. And yet it is very tender. It is this combination that makes it feel so real. Plot-wise, all the many threads tie up so smoothly and at such a high dramatic pitch that I raced through this book in just three days. Then I went back and read some of my favorite passages again. Extremely powerful. A must read!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the characters make it 12 July 2004
By A Customer
There are three main characters in Trespassing, but the two minor ones are just as important in unraveling the plot. And at first, it was the suspense of the intricate plotting that pulled me along (there's a murder, and forbidden love -- so who did it? And who's going to get caught?). But soon I realized I was getting lost in each character -- because you don't just see him or her once, you see him repeatedly, through every other character's eyes. So it's as if each one has many sides to him, and it's left upto the reader to decide which side dominates. The writer never judges, not even when the character does something despicable, or shocking. So this book makes you think. Who's right or wrong? Is there such a thing or can you only ever know through the context? It's a very intense, very intimate novel. Definitely worth the read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Food for Thought 1 April 2009
By Sofia
Set in and before 1992, Khan's novel opens with Daanish Shafqat's return to Pakistan from America following his father's death. Into the world of mourning aunts, comes the fatherless Dia Mansoor, daughter of a successful silk entrepreneur and from then on both their lives are changed forever.

Khan's book is a surprising page-turner; rich in detail but with layer upon layer of plot to unravel. Whilst at times heavy-handed with the plot, such that no development is ever really a surprise, the range of themes covered keeps this a fascinating read. Khan brings us a vivid picture of Pakistan: where women are able to study and develop business, but are still unable to walk down the street without enduring lewd harassment from men; where children take up scholarships to study abroad but are still expected to return to a conventional arranged marriage; where kidnappings, riots and political unrest are everyday occurances and where the poor are unspeakably poor and at the mercy of lawless thugs. Khan's Pakistan is a beautiful country torn apart by violence, poverty and lawlessness.

In addition to Daanish and Dia, Trespassing also follows Salaamat, child of a fishing village forced to leave and seek employment in Karachi. Through him, she explores the poor and the desperate, alongside the temptation of and pointlessness of terrorism. Much of the chapters dealing with his story are unpalatable, but there is much that is relevant here to understanding what drives people to align themselves with violence.

Most fascinating of all for me were the chapters dealing with censorship, particularly the self-imposed censorship the USA used when reporting on the first Gulf War.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book 5 Dec 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I love this book. Having spent several years living in Karachi, one of the most exciting, if turbulent, cities in the world, this took me straight back there. It's beautifully written in a style which flows along so smoothly you are sucked into the world of Daanish returning from America, Dia and her mother, Riffat who runs her late husband's silk farm and the many other characters from both sides of the social divide.
It's a story of forbidden love, of cultural differences and ethnic conflict and Uzma Aslam Khan explores these big issues with a deft touch. There is eroticism, humour and pathos all woven together and fabulous descriptions of Karachi and of the process of silk production. For anyone who likes to read a book which not only has terrific storylines but also teaches something about another culture - then I can't recommend this enough.
Review by Mary Smith author of No More Mulberries
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars You'll learn a lot about Pakistan
'Trespassing' has been my best read these last few months. I had been somewhat unlucky with the books I picked lately. When I started to read this one I knew my luck had changed. Read more
Published on 14 Jan 2012 by H. Lacroix
5.0 out of 5 stars Glorious
This is a glorious book which is a real page turner. It is a story of forbidden love, of cultural conflict, of family relationships and identity, beautifully told. Read more
Published on 5 Dec 2010 by James Rogers
3.0 out of 5 stars Routine story, well delivered
This is an account of a forbidden romance against the backdrop of modern Pakistan. Being middle class and USA/British educated, the principal characters wrestle with tensions... Read more
Published on 29 Dec 2009 by Top Banana
5.0 out of 5 stars Unusual...
This book is unusual and beautifully described. It is firstly about a young Pakistani woman and man who start a relationship when he returns from studying in America. Read more
Published on 22 July 2006 by Clear Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars What a book!
This is a terrific novel. It seems to have flown under a lot of people's radar but really it's streets ahead of a lot of what passes for great literature these days. Read more
Published on 7 Oct 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Not your "typical" desi book
I bought this book when it first came out last summer but haven't had the chance to read it till now. I'm glad I did! Read more
Published on 13 July 2004 by fran
5.0 out of 5 stars i loved it
This is at times a sad book, but it's also funny, tender, and most of all, brilliantly constructed. I'm from Karachi -- I lived through the period described. Read more
Published on 5 July 2004
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