Wednesday, 25 July 2018

"Entangled lives" by Imran Omer, an impressive novel about Pakistan and Taliban-era Afghanistan

As an immigration lawyer I have seen many cases of Afghani refugees. However this novel still made a huge impression on me. We here in Holland live nowadays a safe life and you can hardly imagine what it will be when that safety is snatched away from you or when you are never safe. This is happening over and over again in this book.

The novel tells the story of three different people and their lives are entangled with each other. Hence the title. We meet at first a young mother who recognises a familiar face on tv. She goes to Guantanamo Bay and it turns our that that inmate is the man who once saved her life. She asks him to tell him how he ended up in the Taliban and reluctantly he agrees to do so but she has to promise to save his son from life in a Madrassah. (religious boarding school).

So he starts to tell her about his life as an orphan in Karachi in Pakistan.

In the meantime we also hear about Tara a wealthy young woman whose parents live in what now is Bangladesh but then in 1971 was East Pakistan. She is a student who falls in love with a local Bengali student but her family is from West Pakistan. I used to have a friend who was born there in that year and who was adopted by Dutch parents and who could not understand why she looked so different from the people of the town she was supposed to come from until we saw a documentary of that war and realised. Reading Tara's story made me think of that girl all the time. Tara's parents are a very unhappy married couple who came together during the Partition between Pakistan and India. This influences Tara to make what in my eyes is a stupid decision and what is the only part in the book I had trouble believing.

While Raza is telling about his days in Afghanistan with the Taliban his story is chronologically interspaced with that of the American journalist so we see what happened from both sides. It sometimes feels you are reading a dystopian science fiction novel.

The writer hails from Pakistan and now lives in the United States.

A very good novel that is no propaganda document. It is scary and very depressing. It tries to explain the why. Definitely not a happy read. Although there is a happy result of goodness to look forward to. Not a novel you will easily forget.

I got this novel for free via Netgalley a site that gives people who like to review new books an advanced copy to read.

I can really recommend it. The novel will be published on the 27Th of July 2018. A 5 out of 5 stars.




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