6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
The finest novel on the impact of conflict, sectarian violence, the Cold War on women and family in tribal Pakistan,
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This review is from: The Shadow Of The Crescent Moon (Hardcover)
Reading this exquisitely and subtle novel set in the north-west tribal territory of Pakistan, bordering Afghanistan, whilst I am on a gender, human rights, humanitarian fact -finding mission in war-torn Rojava, I am constantly reminded of some powerful similarities. In both countries, Syria and Pakistan, civilians, men, women, children, bear the brutal brunt of sectarian violence, and are victims of fundamentalist extremists, at the same time victims of the wars between the West and the East. That is the US, with the UK as its servant, and Russia. The story here centres on the choices, challenges, influences that divide three brothers in a fictional town, Mir Ali, and the impact of the clash of loyalties, ambitions, desires, on the women in the family. Samarra and Mina are drawn into other directions, violent yet predictable, each, in different ways, forced to express their reactions to the killings, tortures, abductions, perpetrated by a diversity of actors, the army, the jihadists, the Taliban, the CIA. I have yet to finish it, but whenever I have a chance to read, in the unpredictable scenario I am now in Syria,I cannot bear to put it down. Fatima Bhutto has experienced much violence in he own immediate family, father and aunt assassinated, and she knows the political history of Pakistan so well. She has the lightest almost painterly touch describing the mountains, valleys, rivers, family scenes , and then the contrasting, bureaucratic, Islamabad, with its long queues of hopefuls outside the US Embassy, the shady Colonels, the sinister interrogating American officials. This is her first novel and it is brilliant. I think we will read many more from her. And she has important messages, obliquely communicated, about the roles of women, in their families and their communities when conflict erupts, powered by great powers safely using drones, and committed suicide bombers willing to die for their cause. I highly recommend this novel and long myself to meet Fatima Bhutto.