Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Book #14: Pakistan - Broken Moon by Kim Antieau

Hi everybody :) hope your February is getting off to a good start! I have been, ahem, reading lots. Check out my awesome books-I’ve-read-this-year widget. I think I should be spending more time writing rather than reading. It’s hard when you’ve got into the habit of telling yourself that reading is research :D Anyway, here’s the rundown on this week’s around the world book.

Nadira is a maid whose six-year-old brother is stolen to ride camels in the desert. A few years before, she was attacked by men who wanted revenge on her elder brother, and now she is soiled goods, unlikely ever to marry. In a way, this is freeing for her, because she has the courage to go to out into the world, without worrying too much about the future consequences of her actions. Her reputation is already ruined – she can go to any length to save her little brother.

I really liked this story. It has a dreamy quality to it, and is told through letters from a sister to the brother she is trying to save. The tale of Shahrazad and the Thousand and One Nights is woven through Nadira’s own story, and she uses tricks inspired by Shahrazad to survive and rescue her brother. Nadira is a great character – strong, determined to do all she can to put things right, and full of love for her brother.

What struck me most was that a lot of the story could have taken place any time in the last thousand years. Until computers were mentioned, I wasn’t sure it was set in contemporary times. Nadira’s life is so separate from her moneyed employers. There is such a strong dividing line between rich and poor, and it’s sobering to think about how true this is for many in the world today. The glitz and glamour of the camel races with their television cameras and apartments on wheels contrast sharply with the slave-labour of the training camps and the everyday life of Karachi’s poor.

I think this also gives the story a fairy-tale like quality. Nadira takes charge of her own destiny with Shahrazad as her inspiration, and while she does not go from rags to riches, she improves the lives of herself and her family. And maybe in the end she can find love, despite her past.

Any books set in Pakistan that you want to share? (and yes, okay, only some of this book is set in Pakistan, but the rest is set in an unnamed country, so it counts as Pakistan).

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