Friday, October 15, 2010

A clash of worldviews

It’s chick lit. Good lord, no, it’s far from chick lit. It’s very funny. Oh yeah? Then how come it makes you shudder? It’s vastly different from the kind of novel we’ve come to expect from Pakistani writers. No, it’s just the same. You want to whack the heroine, she’s so annoying. You want to hug her and take her away to a place where life is less traumatic than where she is now. You laugh at the way the media is portrayed in the book. You wince because it seems so familiar. You send up a silent prayer of thanks to whoever is responsible for where you live. You know that, if you weren’t so deliberately blind, where you live is actually quite similar to where this book is set.

Beautiful From This Angle
Maha Khan Phillips
Rs250; pp 240
That’s a lot of internal argument for a novel that’s only 232 pages long, but you can’t read Pakistani writer Maha Khan Phillips’s Beautiful From This Angle without putting it down every few pages to struggle with yourself. The blurb makes it seem simple; so does the first chapter. Then, everything explodes.

So, here’s Amynah Farooqui, a 24-year-old Page 3-type chick who writes a column called ‘Party Queen on the Scene’ for a magazine in Karachi. She’s rich, her parents have separate love lives, she drinks, smokes, does coke (not the soft drink), picks up lovers whenever she feels like, is friends with a TV producer who’s making a reality show featuring British celebrities called ‘Who Wants to Be a Terrorist?’, and is writing an Oppressed Woman’s Novel, about a British Pakistani girl whose father forcibly marries her to a cousin in the homeland — a man who beats her, incarcerates her and kills her dog, Fifi.

Life, for Amynah, is good.

Full review here Hindustan Times

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