Praise for Uzma Aslam Khan

 

  thinner than skin Thinner Than Skin

 

In gorgeous prose, Khan writes about Pakistan, a land of breathtaking beauty, and the complex relationships between people who are weighted with grief and estrangement. As her charactersí lives play out against the backdrop of the external world whose violence gradually closes in on them, Khan brilliantly probes the fatal limitations of human understanding. A novel of great lucidity and tenderness, filled with splendid descriptions of the land, the people who have always inhabited it, and those who are irresistibly drawn to it.
—Thérèse Soukar Chehade

 

Smart, fierce, and poignant: perhaps the most exciting novel yet by this very talented writer.
—Mohsin Hamid

 

  geometry The Geometry of God

 

Uzma Aslam Khan, a fearless young Pakistani novelist, writes about what lies beneath the surface—ancient fossils embedded in desert hillsides, truths hidden inside the language of everyday life. In The Geometry of God, set in 1970s and ’80s Pakistan, a young math whiz called Noman writes pseudoscience for his father’s cohort of religious extremists while secretly gravitating toward a diehard evolutionist and his adventurous granddaughter, Amal. As faith and reason fatally collide, Amal’s blind younger sister, Mehwish, tries to decipher a world she cannot see but understands better than most. Khan’s urgent defense of free thought and action—often galvanized by strong-minded, sensuous women—courses through every page of this gorgeously complex book; but what really draws the reader in is the way Mehwish taste-tests the words she hears, as if they were pieces of fruit, and probes the meaning of human connection in a culture of intolerance, but also of stubborn hope.
—Cathleen Medwick, “Paperback Gem,” in O: The Oprah Magazine

 

Khan (Trespassing, 2004, etc.) fuses the romantic, the spiritual and the political in her story of two sisters in 1980s and í90s Pakistan. The same day that eight-year-old Amal finds an important fossil on a dig with her grandfather Zahoor, her baby sister Mehwish goes blind, supposedly from looking too long at the sun. Zahoor, a professor whose Darwinism is under attack by Islamists, encourages Amalís curiosity, and she becomes a scientist, as well as Mehwishís protector. Their grandfather also encourages Mehwish, who becomes a poet and narrates her sections of the novel in a playful made-up language combining English and Urdu. Six years after Mehwish loses her sight, the girls are noticed at one of Zahoorís lectures by Noman, a young man whose father, a member of Ziaís Party of Creation bent on ridding Pakistan of Western science, has sent him to spy on the professor. An angry but dutiful son, Noman has relinquished his mathematical ambitions to write articles in his fatherís name extolling strict adherence to Sharia, though he himself enjoys liquor and marijuana with nihilist friends. Meeting the enlightened Zahoor changes Nomanís life; he is increasingly torn between family loyalty and his intellectual awakening. When Zahoor is arrested, Noman blames himself and breaks with his father, then takes a job teaching math. Meanwhile, Amal, who also blames Noman, becomes a lab assistant (as a woman she is barred from doing actual fieldwork) and eventually agrees to marry longtime sweetheart Omar only if he will allow her independence. Noman, once drawn to Amal, discovers genuine, spiritual love for Mehwish, who slowly responds. As these private lives are about to reach fulfillment, political realities hone in. The consequences are tragic but not insurmountable. The authorís take on fundamentalism can be polemic, but the characters, the poetry and the philosophical questions she raises are rendered with a power and beauty that make this novel linger in the mind and heart.
Kirkus (starred review)

 

Throughout this complex narrative, Khan writes with unfailing intelligence and linguistic magic. For Westerners, she unlocks doors and windows onto Pakistan and its Islamic culture.
—Claire Hopley, The Washington Times

 

The connections are finely layered in this delicately crafted book. There is no denying the sensitivity with which Khan writes. She is impeccably restrained when it comes to handling emotions. The rhythm of this novel is intriguing. The writing is extremely elegant. Especially when she writes about Mehwish, who speaks as she hears, turning traditional spelling and words on their head.
Indian Express

 

[V]ivid and rich. The reader is rewarded with new viewpoints, a welcome change from the sensationalized and often macabre portrayals of Pakistani people and the country they fight so hard to preserve.
Story Circle Book Reviews

 

Uzma Aslam Khan has boldly tapped uncharted themes in her latest book, The Geometry of God. She carves a sublime story of new and old with contemporary panache, in which people are real and their fears are prevalent and believable. Khan weaves a complex story whose narrative has a casual energy to it: each voice telling his or her story. Khan is not afraid to say anything.
Dawn, Pakistan

 

Khan writes simply and with feeling, the language perfectly matching the personality of each character. Yet, in the simplicity, she manages to communicate the dilemma of conflicting ideologies and makes one sympathize with the other regardless of their disposition. It was a pleasure to read this profound, yet straightforward book.
Jang Weekly, Pakistan

 

An unconventionally structured novel… also fascinating in its use of language and drawings sketched as if by a child, in the midst of a mosaic of narrative from different points of view. Hilarious and moving.
The Hindu, India

 

Elegant, sensuous and fiercely intelligent, The Geometry of God takes an argument that is in danger of becoming stale—that of fundamentalism vs. free thinking among Muslims—and animates it in a wonderfully inventive story that pits science against politics and the freedom of women against the insecurities of men.
—Kamila Shamsie

 

The Geometry of God is a novel that you don’t just read; you listen to it. It can be irreverent, perverse. It can speak with a whole, fluid beauty. It can be curious, wondrous, noncompliant, like the English in Mehwish’s head… Mehwish is the zauq of the book, the sensory pulse of the novel, who pulls you into a world of her own making. Expect a simultaneous rush that has funniness, absurdity, shock, tenderness… (and) great sex.
First City, India

 

Characters, as Khan has proven over the course of three novels, are her forte. Rich, nuanced and paradoxical, they reflect an innate understanding of human psychology… a profound, original, innovative and humorous read.
Newsline, Pakistan

 

Such wonderful and persuasive writing. No one writes like her about the body, about the senses, about the physical world. Uzma Aslam Khan is the writer whose new novel I look forward to the most.
—Nadeem Aslam

 

Trespassing

 

Trespassing is a self-confident novel that marks the emergence of a new generation of Pakistani novelists.
—Tariq Ali

 

Trespassing is a celebration of the importance of perception, inquisitiveness about the smaller details of life, but Khan does not shy away from the bigger picture. Writing intelligently, she explores colonialism, identity and belief without presuming to offer any conclusions or solutions. Khan works with questions; hints and queries replace absolutes.
New Statesman

 

In these young lovers, Khan has created two characters whose complex circumstances draws us in. Their affair is torrid, and the details are sensual… Khan’s prose is striking… gut-wrenching (and) surprisingly humorous—presenting a look at life in a country that remains an enigma.
San Francisco Chronicle

 

A startlingly fresh voice… Khan illuminates the complex social, religious, and economic mores of Pakistan while offering an outsider’s hard-eyed perspective on American attitudes during the Gulf War… A rare, wonderful gift of a novel that defies mere plot synopsis: a complex fictional world that illuminates the real one and seamlessly merges the personal with the larger sociopolitical conundrums we all face today.
Kirkus (starred review)

 

Khan tackles political and religious themes as adroitly as she handles the hauntng love story, and what emerges is a brilliant, lush portrait of Karachi, a metropolis teeming with corruption, violence, and social tension.
Booklist

 

Khan creates a story of cultural and ethnic conflict in spare and elegant prose.
The Observer

 

Trespassing moves skillfully between private agonies and the big dirty politics of the region… Khan’s picture of her home town is detailed, generous and committed.
Time Out, UK (Book of the Week)

 

A haunting and beautiful book.
Sunday Glasgow Mail

 

Khan’s stunning, intricate novel, Trespassing [with its] epic scope, is enhanced by its subtle language and its interweaved narratives of beautifully realized characters.
Metro

 

We glimpse a Pakistan—in particular, the environs of Karachi—that no writer in English has ever depicted before.
Independent UK

 

Trespassing conflates the personal and the political and seals the joins with a combination of sassy, whip-crack humor and tender description.
The Big Issue

 

A Russian doll of a book: Although ostensibly just one overarching story of love and loss, others nest within, threaded on a filament of mystery. Khan describes facets of life in Pakistan with a wonderful sense of humor and acuity.
Asian Review of Books

 

Khan’s prose may be subtle, yet her style is as forceful as any of the great storytellers who have emerged from the sub-continent. But Trespassing doesn’t need the pigeonholing of nationality in order to hold its audience; Khan is creating a tradition and style of her own.
—Nilanjana S. Roy, Literary Review