Sunday 5 April 2015

The Shadow of the Crescent Moon by Fatima Bhutto

The Shadow of the Crescent Moon

by Fatima Bhutto

Fatima Bhutto was born in Kabul in 1982. Her father Murtaza Bhutto, son of Pakistan's former President and Prime Minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and an elected member of parliament, was killed by the police in 1996 in Karachi during the premiership of his sister, Benazir Bhutto.

Fatima graduated from Columbia University in 2004, majoring in Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures and from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in 2005 with a Masters in South Asian Government and Politics.

A journalist, she lives and writes in Karachi, Pakistan.  I recently saw her interviewed on Tv news regarding the possible use of the death penalty on a minor in Pakistan. It reminded me that her book was on my To Be Read list. As she is someone who has first hand experience of how devastating events can impact lives – she hid herself and younger brother in a cupboard whilst her father was murdered - I thought it would be interesting to read her first novel as the dust cover bills it as how 3 brothers, Aram Erum, Sikandar and Hayat, meet for breakfast and then go off in their own directions not realising that 3 hours later the day will end in devastating circumstances.

The book chapters are entitled by the time as the day winds round from 9AM to unravel the timeline of each brother’s route to the “high noon” finale. The book has 2 strong woman characters, the defiant Samarra, Aram Etum’s ex girlfriend, and Mina, Shikander’s wife, who through her grief at the loss of her son finds the strength to stand up to a trigger-happy Taliban ambush. Set in Mir Ali a small town in North Waziristan in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in NW Pakistan, bordering Afghanistan, the story provides insight into the many difficulties Pakistan faces and the difficulties of life in this remote corner ravaged by war and fundamentalism.

ashramblings verdict 3*  - interesting insight into Pakistan’s difficulties, told via the story of its impact on one family.