Last week the blog was silent because we took off on a family road trip over spring break. I posted some photos on IG, but I’ll do a trip post soon, probably this weekend. In the meantime, I got some more reading done, so I thought I’d do some quick posts here.
Broken Verses by Kamila Shamsie was first published over a decade ago. I came across it on a reading list somewhere recently, and I’ve been waiting for my turn to borrow it from the library. The book is set in Karachi, Pakistan, post-9/11, and focuses on a young, upper class woman working on a local television quiz show. Aasmaani is still grappling with the disappearance of her mother, a famous Pakistani activist, and the brutal murder of her mother’s lover, the beloved Poet of Pakistan, two years before her mother goes missing. Because of the mysterious circumstances around their death / disappearance, Aasmaani has been unable to move through the grief process, and is clinging to any hope of a future reunion – seeing clues in both the real and imagined.
I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, because I think it’s important for the thoughts and letters and search to unfold in Aasmaani’s time. But I will tell you that this is a book to linger over, and to reread in sections. Shamsie’s prose is rich and textured – the lines are really blurred between the Poet’s work and his words, and the words of others. The themes of grief – and grief avoided – as well as clinical depression and familial love are powerful and real. The undercurrents of political movements throughout the 70’s and 80’s, and into the 90’s/post-9/11 are a timely read (aren’t so many things these days, if we’re being honest?).
I’ve been on a bit of a mother-daughter / parent-child run in my reading lately. Unintentional, but very powerful.