“Vijay probes grand themes—tribalism, despotism, betrayal, death, resurrection—in exquisite but unflowery prose, and with sincere sentiment but little sentimentality.”

NO MAJOR SPOILERS

This terrific book takes place in India and Kashmir. It is the story of Shalini, a young lady who lives at home with her mother and father. In the beginning it is the story of a young girl who is fascinated with a man named Bashir Ahmed, an apparent traveling salesman who seems to be selling clothes. From the first time he stopped at her house it appears that Shalini’s mother and this man have become friendly , and Bashir often comes to visit, even without any clothes to sell. Bashir’s stories entrance Sahalini and even she looks forward to his visits.

At some point it becomes necessary for Bashir to not visit the house anymore, and a few years after she last saw him her mother suddenly dies.

Shalini is now a young adult who lives alone with her father when she suddenly decides to take a trip and try to find Bashmir. She doesn’t tell her father where she is going, just that she’s taking a trip for research for a school project. The only information Shalini has as to where Bashif might be located is from a story he once told her about a small village where his wife’s family is from.

This is where the story really develops as we follow Shalini on her trip and as she slowly comes closer to her goal we are told in flashback the history of her mother and Bashir.

Her travels will bring her to Kashmir and eventually a small village in the Himalayas. She will be caught up in the fighting between Muslim and Hindu in that part of the world and her world will be turned upside down by her new life experiences
This is in a way a coming of age story, exquisitely written by the author. The story held my avid interest throughout the book. For a debut novel, this author shows us a new voice and a new vision about events in that remote part of the world.

Highly recommended.

 

Reviewed by:

Richard Franco

Added 4th April 2019

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Richard Franco