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4.0 out of 5 stars Everyday life in Pakistan, 17 Mar. 2014
Amanda Jenkinson "MandyJ" (Cheltenham) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Bargain from the Bazaar: A Family's Day of Reckoning in Lahore (Kindle Edition)
This is a powerful and moving story of a Pakistani family living in Lahore and trying to make sense of the political and societal upheavals in that most turbulent of countries, contemporary Pakistan. Awais Reza is a shopkeeper in the city’s Anarkali Bazaar, part of a vibrant community which is gradually being eroded by forces from both within and without. He hopes to pass on his jewellery business to his sons just as his own father passed it on to him, but the world is changing, and not one of his three sons is content, or indeed able, to carry on with the old ways. The terror and violence of life in Pakistan affects the whole family. The tension between democracy and religion, law and fundamentalism, western influences and the drug culture, set against patriarchal middle-class life, and against a background of America’s war on terror, plus the troubled recent history of the country are vividly portrayed in this highly readable and engaging narrative. The author’s empathy for and profound knowledge of everyday life and the struggles of ordinary people, plus his understanding of the political situation, combined with his skill at characterisation and storytelling, make this an unusual and enlightening portrayal of a society few westerners know much about, as we are rarely able to relate to the human story behind the headlines. Ullah is never judgemental and shows great empathy for all his characters, although he does occasionally use them as mouthpieces for his own views and ideas, which sometimes slows the action and gives the reader a sense of being lectured to. But overall this is a vivid window into an alien world and one which gives the reader a deeper understanding of life in Pakistan today.
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