|Rosewood trees line the |
path of K. K. Harouni's estate
As the summary on Goodreads puts it, these "linked stories describe the interwoven lives of an aging feudal landowner [in Pakistan], his servants and managers, and his extended family, industrialists who have lost touch with the land."
Really, though, it is a study of what happens when people attempt to rise above their station. Each story is a power struggle, but they all end in a seemingly predetermined way. The landowners prevail. The wealthy prevail. The men prevail. Even in the story where it is a wealthy woman as the main character, she cannot overcome her past. These characters felt so entrenched.
Typical American that I am, I'm always rooting for the scrappy underdogs to lift themselves up by the bootstraps, defeat the system, and achieve their dreams, blah blah blah.
Yep. That's doesn't happen.
Once I got over my overbearingly Western need for happily ever after, I did appreciate these stories. Mueenuddin picks his characters up one at a time and holds them to the light so that we can see all their flaws as well as their beauty. Take the woman who sees that she has neither the family ties nor the money to attain a better life so she ingratiates herself to the rich, elderly landowner. You know this a precarious situation--life will be good until something happens to him. When he's gone, she'll lose everything. Yet she takes that gamble with the blinders off. She knows.
|Sparrows in Pakistan|
Overall, a sad read that felt devoid of hope. But, it was good to hear these stories, nonetheless. I can definitely see why Mueenuddin was nominated for the National Book Award.
<I checked this book out of my library.>