cover image Other Names for Love

Other Names for Love

Taymour Soomro. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $26 (256p) ISBN 978-0-374-60464-6

Soomro’s nuanced debut contends with themes of sexuality and masculinity in Pakistan. Fahad, 16, reluctantly travels by train with his father, Rafik, to their rural estate in Abad. Rafik hopes to introduce the theater-inclined Fahad to an appropriate friend who can help him become “a man.” Ali, a tough, local boy, initially intimidates Fahad, but soon captures his heart, the heat and wildness of the countryside mirroring Fahad’s desire. In chapters from Rafik’s points of view, Soomro delves into his struggle to cultivate his jungle property into farmland and his ruthless determination to maintain power by bribing officials and coercing his workers into building an audacious dam. Decades later, in what seems to be the present day, Fahad is a successful writer living an openly gay life in London when his comfortable existence is upended by a call from his mother claiming his parents are about to lose their house in Karachi. Fahad returns to Pakistan and discovers Rafik has squandered his money and is losing his memory. Together they travel back to Abad, and Fahad, brimming with nostalgia for Ali, reckons with the passage of time. In sharp prose, Soomro brings clarity and emotional heft to Fahad’s wistfulness (“the Ali he was looking for was long gone... but still he kept looking”). This author is one to watch. Agent: Adam Eaglin, Cheney Agency. (July)