The Shadow Of The Crescent Moon Hardcover – 28 Nov 2013
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Bhutto writes of an extraordinary place where beauty lives alongside brutality, with superb poise and a kind of defiant lyricism (The Times)
Stunning . . . Few debut novels can adequately explore such colossal themes as betrayal and allegiance, or persuasively render fear, doubt and determination (The National)
Incredibly ambitious, extremely powerful and moving (Radio 4)
Stunningly worded (Company Magazine)
Concise, elegant. Bhutto is a gifted and compelling writer, economically and poetically summoning up this beautiful mountainous backwater (Mail on Sunday)
Powerful, compelling, moving inexorably to a devastating conclusion (Sunday Express)
[Explores] the divisive split between those suffering from the direct consequences of war and a generation of unaware, complacent young Pakistanis (Evening Standard)
A first novel of uncommon poise and acuity, The Shadow of the Crescent Moon is set in an old and protracted war for land and dignity. But its swift and suspenseful narrative describes a fiercely contemporary battle in the human heart: between the seductive fantasy of personal freedom and the tenacious claims of family, community and history (Pankaj Mishra)
An extraordinary first novel which reads like a politico-religious thriller. Compelling. (Hector Abads)
This is (...) a human story, with love as well as ideology - Bhutto blends the two adroitly (and) writes with great poignancy, keeping the emotional pitch high (Financial Times)
It's a heart-stopping thriller, as well as an important political commentary about oppression, occupation and war. Most strikingly, though, it's a devastating love story (Jemima Khan New Statesman 'Books of the Year')
The novel is set over the course of one morning in a small town in Pakistan's tribal regions (and) follows the story of three brothers who are forced to make difficult choices. But the heart of the novel, for Bhutto, lies in the female characters (Observer)
Thought-provoking. Above all, what The Shadow of the Crescent Moon captures so well is not just the trauma of war, but also the conflicts of contemporary Pakistanis, torn between remaining faithful to the legacy of previous generations, and their own dreams of choosing their own destiny (Sunday Telegraph)
About the Author
Fatima Bhutto was born in 1982 in Kabul, grew up in Damascus, and lives in Karachi. She is the author of a memoir, Songs of Blood and Sword. The Shadow of the Crescent Moon is her first novel.
Top customer reviews
The story follows each brother as he goes about his business on a single, soon to be momentous, day. It also gives us some details about their past and backstory so we can understand the context of their actions. There are two female characters - the wife of one brother, and the girlfriend of another. Their stories are also revealed and they play a key part in the events that unfold. The book paints a picture of a troubled region and a people who suffer at the hands of both the army and the insurgency. This is highlighted beautifully right at the beginning with the three brothers each choosing a different mosque to pray in so that if one of them is attacked, they will not all three perish. This was a very simple and effective way to bring home what it must be like to live somewhere chronically unstable.
The writing style is clean and very economical. There is no wasted time or padding here. This material could have allowed a much longer book, but the author chose to focus on the quality and not the quantity. I always admire this in a writer, and it generally makes for better quality as it means what is included has to be twice as effective. In this case, I found it a very well written and easy to read story and one that left a stronger impression on me than its length would suggest.
My only gripe is around the ending (I'm not going to spoil it, so you're OK to read on). I found it very abrupt and sudden, and I didn't really understand it. I felt like I'd missed something major - perhaps the entire point of the book. I felt it was working itself up nicely to a dramatic conclusion, and then just stopped short. So I was left feeling confused and unsatisfied, after a book that I'd thoroughly enjoyed up until that point.
This is a good book, well written and easy to read. It is interesting and relevant given that this region is regularly in the news. It gives some more insight into the challenges faced by the people of the area, and also the nature of Pakistan which I'd never really appreciated as being a diverse country with internal divisions. It is also an enjoyable story in its own right and has some good moral dilemmas to explore. My criticisms are that it misses a few opportunities and ends too suddenly. But it's still worth a read, particularly if you have an interest in the region or its politics.
The Shadow of the Crescent Moon is an interesting novel, relatively brief and quite intense. It is set in the tribal region of northwest Pakistan and involves three brothers who are preparing to celebrate Eid, the Muslim feast at the end of Ramadan. The oldest son has decided to leave his childhood sweetheart and go into business away from his home town of Mir Ali. The middle son has become a doctor in Mir Ali and the youngest has joined his brother's sweetheart as an insurgent. In the novel, Mir Ali is the focal point for the armed struggle between Pakistan's army and local people who crave their own freedom.
Fatima Bhutto does a very good job describing the culture, the issues, the people and the setting. One gets the sense of a long-running, life-and-death struggle in the northwest of Pakistan. It is clear that the author's sentiments are with the insurgents.
I found the novel frustrating in the sense that it lacks focus. There is an insurgent plot to kill a minister, and the story seems to be headed to a climax there, but the novel ends in uncertainty. Was he killed? Who killed him? Or if not, why not? There is some uncertainty as to who the insurgents are. Some are Taliban; some are ordinary people. What is the relationship between them? The Pakistani government is clearly an evil influence, but in a book like this which is somewhat polemical, it would be a redeeming feature to hint more broadly at what the government should do differently (other than bringing in local conscripts). There are also some religious issues: notably Sunnis vs. Shiites, but there are problems for Christians and Hindus, as well. How do these issues fit into the over-arching themes of justice and freedom?
Ms. Bhutto's writing in quite engaging. Occasionally, there is a too long sentence which requires a second reading to gain understanding. And, like all 'young, modern authors' she likes to use unconventional words rather than the conventional. Mostly, this works well, but there is the occasional grating which disturbs the flow. The characterisation of the two older brothers, the female sweetheart and the Pakistani colonel are all clear and intriguing. The character of the youngest brother - the insurgent - is somewhat opaque. We can understand why the two older brothers do what they do, but what - apart from his father's lectures - motivates this brother to be an insurgent?
An interesting book and a particularly interesting author. I'm sure we'll hear more from her!
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