cover image Noon


Aatish Taseer. Faber & Faber, $25 (304p) ISBN 978-0-86547-858-9

Readers of Taseer's memoir, Stranger to History: A Son's Journey Through Islamic Lands, or his previous novel, The Temple-Goers, may be disappointed to find a shocking amount of retread in his latest. It seems less a novel than four loose vignettes from a life split between India and Pakistan, with a postcolonial emphasis on how industrial modernization has isolated the Westernized bourgeoisie from a sometimes resentful underclass. The first episode offers a snapshot from the Delhi childhood of Rehan Tabassum; the second introduces his stepfather, the seething "man of the times" industrialist Amit Sethia; while in the third section, Rehan narrates the investigation of a burglary at the Sethias' estate in which everyone is a suspect. The book's last and strongest part finds the privileged Rehan adjusting to life in the intrigue-ridden household of his estranged Pakistani birth father, powerless to control the ingrained scandalous class fissures in the aftermath of the 2005 earthquake in Kashmir. There are incisive depictions of believers entwined with moguls beholden to American interests, but overall, while the prose has a hypnotic old-fashioned fluidity, there is a distinctly deleted-scenes feel, leaving what ought to be the most stirring characters blank and the most revealing details unarticulated. (Sept.)