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The Shadow of the Crescent Moon: A Novel by…
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The Shadow of the Crescent Moon: A Novel

by Fatima Bhutto

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This is a sad and seemingly hopeless story of a village, Mir Ali, in a tribal area of Pakistan that has been at war with government forces for generations. Three brothers take different paths after the death of their father. The eldest, Aman Erum, goes to college in the US, leaving behind his childhood companion, the brave tomboy Samarra. Sikander stays in Pakistan and becomes a doctor, but he and his wife Mina have had a devastating loss and cannot comfort each other. Youngest son Hayat becomes part of his father's rebellion. Forces within and outside the family divide them, but the horrifying consequences that result from their activities may end up healing the wounds. Well written, with devastating plot twists. And probably universal in lands with eternal war. ( )
  froxgirl | Mar 15, 2016 |
First I received this book free from a goodreads.com giveaway.

I'll be honest it took me a few tries to get started on this book. After I got into it I found it a good read. I really like the way it was written and I found it easy to follow. just wasn't really what I was expecting. yet I would still recommend it. ( )
  tianicolle | Jan 27, 2016 |
First I received this book free from a goodreads.com giveaway.

I'll be honest it took me a few tries to get started on this book. After I got into it I found it a good read. I really like the way it was written and I found it easy to follow. just wasn't really what I was expecting. yet I would still recommend it. ( )
  tianicolle | Jan 27, 2016 |
My last few reviews, I feel like I've had something pithy with which to start off. I don't have anything pithy here. This isn't a novel of levity that I can summarize with a few bon mots (or a Tom Lehrer song). This is an earthy tome of a family deep in Pakistan's tribal region. We are given three brothers, each of whom is sketched only enough so that we understand that one is The Collaborator, one the The Avoider, and the final one The Revolutionary. They are such chosen to ultimately to make the point that it is meaningless to pick a role within a corrupt system; such a system, no matter the choice, grinds everyone in it to dust.

And so, the brothers in The Shadow of the Crescent Moon make lofty speeches to each other, interrupted by an omniscient narrator eager to explain away some points. Motivations are simplistic because, in a struggle to survive, the characters lack the privilege of debating philosophy and nit-picking details. So that works. But then the simplicity and shallowness worms its way through the plot. An example: The characters are Shia and against the military Pakistani government. The Revolutionary has blown things up, targeted politicians, etc. Their cause is presented as, not just exactly, but understandable. But in an encounter with Sunni Talibs, the novel almost ridicules them and their anger. You could draw something out of that, these parallel yet separate revolutions, but nothing is. We have a novel where things are told and shown to you but it's all shadows; nothing underneath. We have been given lyricism without depth.

The novel ends, somewhat abruptly, with one of those vague, cloudy, endings seemingly preferred by first-time novelists (does Hayat know was is going to happen?). That's it? I thought. Times I was reminded of Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol, with the ending that is that maybe shouldn't be and the lack of markers of time. Not for the core of the novel, which takes place over the first morning of Eid, but for the past. I could never get a grasp on when exactly anything before this first day of Eid happened -- a few days, a few weeks, a few months? Like in Dead Souls, with how long was Chichikov in the village, how long ago did the father die in The Shadow of the Crescent Moon? Is it important? Does it matter? It adds to the feeling of ethereality, of incredulity of the novel.

A timely novel, but a little uneven.

The Shadow of the Crescent Moon by Fatima Bhutto went on sale March 24, 2015.

I received a copy free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  reluctantm | Sep 29, 2015 |
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Three brothers meet for breakfast. Soon after, the eldest, recently returned from America, hails a taxi to the local mosque. The second, a doctor, goes to check in at his hospital. His troubled wife does not join the family that morning. No one knows where Mina goes these days. And the youngest, the idealist, leaves for town on a motorbike.… (more)

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