Bangalore resident and privileged young woman, Shalini finds herself in an unfamiliar world when she arrives in the disputed northern territory of Kashmir. On a quest to understand her late mercurial mother, she is seeking Kashmiri Bashir Ahmed, a familiar figure from her childhood. What she does find is a crucible of Muslim and Hindu conflict and the long shadow of the police and army.
Set amidst the Kashmiri 'troubles', and moving between past and present, this is a story of contemporary India and the personal awakening of a naive outsider to the dark realities of class and prejudice.
1 or 2 members loved this book but most thought parts of the story were aimless and without purpose. Many characters were very dislikable. However, many took the opportunity to research about Kashmir and we enjoyed our conversation and learning about that.
Readers admired the writing ability of the author, though not all enjoyed the story. Many found the lead character too wilful and erratic.
Our group had mixed reactions to this novel. Most thought it well-written but we didn't like any of the characters, which made it difficult to like the book! But it did mean a good discussion when we met!
While everyone agreed that the author was a good writer, that the characters were engaging, and it was an impressive debut novel, most couldn't finish it within the month and several found it too slow going to be truly engaging. Those that did finish agreed that the ending was jarring and unconvincing.
Disturbing but it didn't hurt us. Mostly enjoyed even if very sad.
Enjoyed by all. Thank you.
The group appreciated needing to read a novel in which Vijay creates unlikeable characters, in a very complex environment.
This book was very well received by the group and a lively discussion was had on the universality of many of the problems that appeared in the book, and how our society as a whole deals with them.
All but one liked this book very much. The short first page introduction was intriguing and you felt the need to discover the story behind it. We learned a lot about Kashmir, the mountainous countryside and the tribal and political wars that make life a minefield for its residents.
Continuum of engagement with the book - some did not like the character development of the young couple.
A moving story. Beautifully written with an engaging setting.
Everyone enjoyed reading this book as the author writes well, giving a clear descriptions of both people and places. For some the Kashmir dispute was not something they knew much about but all agreed that the focus on the different groups in the region added to their understanding of this complex situation.
Enjoyed by all, best of the year so far.
We think the author failed to make her characters compelling; it had a dull start for the first 200 pages, and didn't take the opportunity to inform about the politics of the area. We did talk a lot about personality disorders: hers, mother, brigadier, etc.
Very mixed response. 4 loved, and 8 struggled. Found characters unrealistic. Ending felt rushed and just wrapped up too quickly.
Quite enjoyed it. A bit slow to start. No point to the end - lots of unanswered questions.