Broken Verses [NOOK Book]

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, ...
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Broken Verses

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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.

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Editorial Reviews

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
"[The main character] herself is this strong novel's greatest strength. She's a remarkable narrator, in a thoroughly captivating tale." —starred
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."
Library Journal
Aasmaani Akram has landed a job as a quiz show research assistant for the first independent television station in Karachi, Pakistan, shortly before the heralded return of Shehnaz Saeed, a legendary actress set to star in a station soap opera. Shehnaz was a close friend of 30-year-old Aasmaani's feminist icon mother, Samina, missing and presumed dead for the last 14 years. Aasmaani's father, Pakistan's greatest modern poet, disappeared just two years before Samina. Their outspoken activism meant long periods of parental absence for their daughter and fostered an air of cynicism and distrust. But when Shehnaz gives Aasmaani a series of coded letters ostensibly written by her parents, Aasmaani investigates her troubled past and faces the possibility that her parents may, in fact, be alive and imprisoned. Four-time novelist Shamsie (Kartography) offers a beautifully written tale that is equal parts A.S. Byatt-style mystery and mother-daughter saga peopled with strong, engaging characters and deftly infused with humor and romance. The political realities of a post-9/11 Pakistan add another compelling dimension to the universal themes of familial, artistic, and political responsibility. Recommended for larger public libraries and those desiring to amass a collection of international authors.-Jenn B. Stidham, Houston Community Coll. Northeast Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Growing up in Pakistan, Aasmaani Inqalab, 31, was no stranger to government corruption and intrigue. Her heroes were her mother, an outspoken activist, and her mother's lover, a poet known for his criticism of bureaucracy. Far from a stable influence, though, the couple had a pattern of disappearing into exile when the government drew too close and reappearing months or years later. When she was a teen, the Poet was beaten to death, and her mother vanished shortly afterward. Aasmaani assumed that this disappearance was like all the others, and that her mother would reappear without apology one day. But when she begins receiving coded messages that suggest that the Poet's death was staged as part of a government plot, she is drawn into a web of intrigue in which her own life may be in danger. Her mother's closest friend resurfaces, and Aasmaani must decide whether Shehnaz and her son are truly looking out for her well-being or have ulterior motives. The story skillfully combines political intrigue with family dynamics. Characters are beautifully drawn, especially Aasmaani, whose inability to get beyond her abandonment has left deep scars. Shamsie's love for and knowledge of the people of today's Karachi shine through this compelling tale.-Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Library System, VA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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
The Independent
"A gripping read."
Booklist
"Shamsie carries the reader along on Aasmaani's slow journey of discovery with magnetic and beguiling prose, intelligence and wit."
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."
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 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."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780547537825
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 6/1/2005
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 415,725
  • File size: 504 KB

Meet the Author

Kamila Shamsie
Kamila Shamsie's first novel, In the City by the Sea, was shortlisted for the John Llewelyn Rhys/Mail on Sunday Prize. After her second novel, Salt and Saffron, she was named one of the Orange Futures "21 Writers for the 21st century". A recipient of the Award for Literary Achievement in Pakistan, she lives in Karachi and London, where she writes frequently for The Guardian. She often teaches in the U.S., and, at 29, is at work on her fourth novel.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2010

    great book

    i love the story plot and especially the main character strength

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2010

    Insightful and Delightful

    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.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2006

    This book is one for your personal library!

    '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.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews

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