Thinner than Skin

Uzma Aslam Khan. Interlink/Clockroot, $18 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-1-56656-908-8
Set mostly against the background of Pakistan’s Kaghan Valley, a majestic place steeped in the customs and traditions of a quickly disappearing culture, Khan’s new novel (after Trespassing) begins when Nadir, a Pakistani photographer, and his lover, Farhana, arrive in Pakistan after several years in America. Farhana, of Pakistani-German origin, struggles to claim a homeland that proves relentlessly unfamiliar and resists easy understanding. Farhana, who has returned to study the country’s glaciers, is joined by Wes, an old friend of Nadir’s from Karachi, with whom, Nadir fears, she may be having an affair. This volatile mix is made more complicated by Irfan, Nadir’s childhood friend, who joins them as unofficial guide and liaison. Mourning his murdered wife and torn between his desire to bring clean water to remote areas and his fear of interfering with tradition, Irfan tries to keep Nadir and company safe amid growing security concerns. But it is Farhana’s befriending of a young Pakistani girl that leads to a climactic reckoning. Although the novel occasionally suffers from an excess of exposition and a cumbersome touch with feelings, human fates juxtaposed with a complex geopolitical situation make for an interesting read. Agent: Laura Susijn, the Susijn Agency Ltd. (U.K.). (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 12/10/2012
Release date: 10/01/2012
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-1-4434-1335-0
Ebook - 352 pages - 978-1-4434-1337-4
Ebook - 451 pages - 978-1-62371-024-8
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