Completing his Islam Quintet, which began in 15th century Moorish Spain, British-Pakistani writer, filmmaker and activist Ali (A Sultan in Palermo) lands readers in the turbulent political landscape of recent decades. The central characters start as philosophical student activists in Lahore, moving to London, Paris and the U.S. as adults; their story begins some 45 years after their student days, when Pakistani artist-scholar Mohammed Aflatun, nicknamed Plato, calls in a debt of honor to Dara, the novel's narrator, requiring his old friend to write a novel based on Plato's life. Agreeing against his best judgement, Dara sets out to understand and account for his mysterious older friend's life and art, leading him to rediscover old friends-including Zahid, now a distinguished cardiologist in Washington, D.C., and Zahid's wife, Jindie, an old flame of Dara's-as well as new art-world connections in London and Paris. Though Ali frequently digresses from Plato's story, including episodes of Chinese history and lengthy background stories involving characters new to the series, Plato's life gradually unfolds against a backdrop of contemporary politics and terrorism. Epic in scope, this novel explores affairs political and romantic while bristling with fervor and ribald humor.
Reviewed on: 03/29/2010 Release date: 04/01/2010 Genre: Fiction