Red, White and Black

In the City by the Sea
16 August, 2006, 2:13 am
Filed under: general

in the cityI was finally able to read Kamila Shamshie’s In the City by the Sea, a book that has been on my reading list for a few months now.

The book was a delightful read. The story is narrated through the eyes of a eleven-year old boy, and it is essentially a comment on democracy and dictatorship in Pakistan. But what makes its truly engaging read is how the events are viewed through the eyes of a child. The child’s uncle is the political dissident facing a trial for treason against the military ruler and thus the emotional angle came very much into play.

The book is written in a very crafty and imaginative manner. It plays well with words and develops a narrative that is a pleasure to read. Shamsie also relies heavily on the inquisitive mind of the child to raise some difficult questions. Yet, at the same time she manages to keep it light by linking it to the imaginative world of the child.

On the underlying theme. It was written in 1998, so I can suppose that Shamsie is alluding to the Zia-Bhutto tussle and the subsequent of Bhutto execution under charges of treason. Though, I did feel that Shamsie had fallen prey to extreme political categorisations – with a highly idealist moral politician supporting democracy against the despotic military ruler. The polar opposites did not mesh well, but then it is fiction.

Overall, I felt that the book was an interesting read and has certainly whetted my appetite for more of her work.


3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Thanks for sharing’; I’ll definitely check it out. Is she a popular writer in Pakistan?

Comment by IMeMy

IMeMy, she has jumped the popularity curve of late. Her best known books are “Kartography” and “Salt and Safron”.

I would also recommend Mohsin Hamid [of the “Moth Smoke“] fame and .Bapsi Sidhwa for a good taste of English writers of Pakistani origin.

Comment by ayesha

Ya, it is a good book.

Comment by Shirazi

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