Home » All My Posts » Some Recent Readings (II)

Some Recent Readings (II)

In Balram Halvai, Adiga creates a powerful character that makes it hard to put down the novel. Its a powerful story and a real page turner; although I am not sure it really deserved the Man Booker if considered strictly for originality of theme. Perhaps it was to show the “underbelly” of India (as one reviewer puts it) as never done before with such lucidity and so few characters. The book is now going to be adapted into a film with screenplay being written by Hanif Kureishi.

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Although Dr Lang considered this project as “some impressions of a Muslim convert” when it first came out, it proved to be far more profound and insightful for Muslims and non Muslims alike. One can personally relate with Lang’s struggle at many levels and his approach towards making sense of religion vis-à-vis life is remarkably honest. One thing that impressed me most is the depth with which Lang approaches to analyze the source of shariah, especially Hadith. From the standpoint of a new convert, even his mention of Azami and Nabia Abbott is enough to show the breadth of Islamic literature he has dealt with.

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Ahsan’s work is no less a treat for anyone desperately seeking an alternative history of ideology of Pakistan other than the usual mechanically concocted ones by people like Sharif-ul-Mujahid. Rather than early Arab Muslim conquerors, Ahsan traces ideological and cultural roots of today’s Pakistan in the ancient Indus Valley Civilization. Although the book got good reviews by scholars like late Ahmad Hasan Dani, Ahsan’s method seems to have many flaws, thus diminishing the value of his overall thesis. Take for instance, how almost 60-70 % of his ancient historical version is solely based upon Kosambi (who has a Marxist approach towards history) with virtually no comparisons with nationalist and imperialist versions. Nevertheless, the work is highly original and thought-provoking.

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