Broken Verses

Broken Verses

4.4 5
by Kamila Shamsie
     
 

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Fourteen years ago, famous Pakistani activist Samina Akram disappeared. Two years earlier, her lover, Pakistan's greatest poet, was beaten to death by government thugs. In present-day Karachi, her daughter Aasmaani has just discovered a letter in the couple's private code-a letter that could only have been written recently.

Aasmaani is thirty, single, drifting

Overview


Fourteen years ago, famous Pakistani activist Samina Akram disappeared. Two years earlier, her lover, Pakistan's greatest poet, was beaten to death by government thugs. In present-day Karachi, her daughter Aasmaani has just discovered a letter in the couple's private code-a letter that could only have been written recently.

Aasmaani is thirty, single, drifting from job to job. Always left behind whenever Samina followed the Poet into exile, she had assumed that her mother's disappearance was simply another abandonment. Then, while working at Pakistan's first independent TV station, Aasmaani runs into an old friend of Samina's who gives her the first letter, then many more. Where could the letters have come from? And will they lead her to her mother?

Merging the personal with the political, Broken Verses is at once a sharp, thrilling journey through modern-day Pakistan, a carefully coded mystery, and an intimate mother-daughter story that asks how we forgive a mother who leaves.

Editorial Reviews

author of Booklust - Nancy Pearl
"This novel is about mothers and daughters, life in a repressive society, and falling in love. Gorgeously written."
Cleveland Plain Dealer

"Admirable. [And] Aasmaani's voice - shifting from anger to vulnerability - drives the intriguing story."
Bust

"Broken Verses isn't just well-written, it's practically poetry. A before-bed-in-front-of-the-fire-with-your-favorite-cup-of-tea read."
The Independent

"A gripping read."
Entertainment Weekly

"A fresh literary look at modern-day Pakistan. [A] sparse, at times beautiful meditation on love, forgiveness, and letting go. B+."
curledup.com

"Broken Verses speaks to the power of words in an age of repression, played against the turbulent history of Pakistan."
Booklist

"Shamsie carries the reader along on Aasmaani's slow journey of discovery with magnetic and beguiling prose, intelligence and wit."
The Odyssey Bookshop - Herman Fong
"An utterly riveting tale. Shamsie has created one of the most compelling characters to appear in recent fiction."
From the Publisher

PRAISE FOR BROKEN VERSES

"[Shamsie] packs her story with the playful evidence of her high-flying intelligence." —San Francisco Chronicle

"This 30-year-old has been described as a young Anita Desai, and her third book, about childhood, love, life and high society in Karachi during the turbulent 1990s, is worth all the prepublication fuss." —Harper's Bazaar

"A fresh literary look at modern-day Pakistan…[a] beautiful meditation on love, forgiveness, and letting go." —Entertainment Weekly

"Richly woven…There is a succulent pleasure to the narrative that draws you happily to its end." —The Guardian

"This is also a story about parents and children, about Aasmaani trying to make peace with her strange childhood. It is a story about love, as Aasmaani and Shehnaz's son find themselves drawn to each other. And there's politics, to boot. The political backdrop-criticism of America, anxiety about the role of fundamentalists in Pakistani government-remains just that, a backdrop; it never overshadows, but rather somehow expands, the story…A thoroughly captivating tale." —Kirkus Reviews (starred)

"Intriguing, shimmeringly intelligent…Shamsie's crowning triumph." —Publishers Weekly

The Odyssey Bookshop Herman Fong

"An utterly riveting tale. Shamsie has created one of the most compelling characters to appear in recent fiction."
Nancy Pearl - author of Booklust

"This novel is about mothers and daughters, life in a repressive society, and falling in love. Gorgeously written."
Publishers Weekly
"Turbulent Karachi is the backdrop for this intriguing, shimmeringly intelligent fourth novel with its wry, fetching, captivating, and unexpected heroine."
School Library Journal
"Shamsie's love for and knowledge of the people of today's Karachi shine through this compelling tale."
Kirkus
"[The main character] herself is this strong novel's greatest strength. She's a remarkable narrator, in a thoroughly captivating tale." —starred
Library Journal
"A beautifully written tale that is equal parts A.S. Byatt-style mystery and mother-daughter saga. [D]eftly infused with humor and romance."
Kirkus Reviews
In a Karachi-set fourth novel, Shamsie (Kartography, 2003, etc.) explores universal themes. At age 30, Aasmaani Inqalab finds herself taking a job at a Pakistani TV station, where she meets Shehnaz Saeed, famed actress who is returning to the spotlight after years of retirement. Shehnaz also happened to be an old, close friend of Aasmaani's mother. Aasmaani's family tree is complicated. Her parents were married for less than a year, her activist mother was in love with a famous Pakistani poet, and Aasmaani was raised by four parents-mum, dad, stepmother and the Poet. But then the Poet died, and Aasmaani's mother disappeared. And now, 14 years later, Shehnaz waltzes into Aasmaani's life, bearing strange letters in some sort of code. She has received these letters from a nameless fan, and, remembering that Aasmaani's mother and the Poet corresponded in code, she passes the notes to Aasmaani. Could these mysterious messages contain clues that would explain Aasmaani's mother's disappearance, or the Poet's death? Aasmaani, who remembers the code from childhood, translates the letters and becomes convinced that the supposedly dead Poet is writing them. Thus the heart-pumping plotline. Has the Poet really been held captive these many years? And what happened to Aasmaani's mother? But intrigue isn't the only trick Shamsie has up her sleeve. This is also a story about parents and children, about Aasmaani trying to make peace with her strange childhood. It is a story about love, as Aasmaani and Shehnaz's son find themselves drawn to each other. And there's politics, to boot. The political backdrop-criticism of America, anxiety about the role of fundamentalists in Pakistani government-remains justthat, a backdrop; it never overshadows, but rather somehow expands, the story. Aasmaani herself is this strong novel's greatest strength. She's a remarkable narrator, in a thoroughly captivating tale. Author tour

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780156030533
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
06/01/2005
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
425,166
Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.79(d)

What People are saying about this

Herman Fong
"An utterly riveting tale. Shamsie has created one of the most compelling characters to appear in recent fiction." --(Herman Fong, The Odyssey Bookshop)

Meet the Author

KAMILA SHAMSIE is the author of five novels: In the City by the Sea, Kartography (both shortlisted for the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize), Salt and Saffron, Broken Verses and Burnt Shadows, which was shortlisted for the Orange Prize and has been translated into more than 20 languages. She is a trustee of English PEN and Free Word, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and one of Granta's 20 Best Young British Writers of 2013. She grew up in Karachi and now lives in London.

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Broken Verses 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i love the story plot and especially the main character strength
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have to say this is probably of the best books I read in 2009. I love reading foreign authors for a look at different cultures. This book gives the reader a look at life in Pakistan in present day as well as during the upheaval of the 1980s.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Broken Verses' has so many meaningful insights you'll need to add it to your home library so you can reread it, and refer to for inspiration and a peek into your own being. I have traveled to Pakistan through Aasmani's eyes and the journey was amazing.