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Salt and Saffron by Kamila Shamsie

Salt and Saffron

by Kamila Shamsie

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153678,096 (3.32)5



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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
It's been great to go back and read Shamsie's earlier novels after reading Home Fire. I feel very mixed about this - one blurb said it was like a Rushdie/Mitford sister mash-up and I can see that - the narrator is impossibly witty, the family history incredibly intricate, the politics are complex and love wins in the end.

This is a weird, prickly, sometimes funny, sometimes boring novel that ends up being very likable despite itself. For me, Home Fires was one of the best reads of the year and this isn't but I still liked seeing the trajectory of her style and her storytelling. ( )
  laurenbufferd | Sep 29, 2017 |
In three words: convoluted and implausible. Shamsie's more recent books are better and they reflect a more mature viewpoint (at least, of the main characters). I felt this book tried to use too many tricks and gimmicks (e.g., twins and the "not-quites") and it was distracting or tiresome very soon.

I think the writing itself was strong and capable. And the story had some intrigue. But the storytelling needed to tightened.

And my personal gripe, especially with Kartography and this one, is how the young female narrator seems to languish and pine (or long for some man/boy). ( )
  ming.l | Mar 31, 2013 |
Enjoyable little story, as Aliya travels back home from America to India. Carrier of stories for her generation, she is enchanted with the concept of "not quite twins" until she finds out that she is the "not quite twin" with the scandalous Aunt Mariam. Having met a man from "the wrong side of the tracks", Aliya doesnt know if she will be the one to bring shame on the family
  nordie | Jun 17, 2011 |
Aliya is on summer holiday from uni in the States. On the flight home, she entertains fellow passengers with her family history, interwoven tales which span India, Pakistan, from before the British Raj, through independence and partition to the modern day. The Dard-e-Dils are a colourful family, upperclass, influential, a complicated family tree. Aliya meets some of the Indian branch in London, making her think back on the stories she has told and been told.

Some of the stories tell of the 'not-quite' twins, the relations that are linked closely, although not directly by blood. There are brothers born of different mothers, triplets born either side of midnight, and Aliya and her aunt, Mariam. The stories of the 'not'quite' twins cover the most difficult times in the family's history, like partition. Mariam's story is given to us piecemeal, as it is the one which affects the family most, indeed it seems that Aliya, after many years of burying the past, wants to know what happens. On the flight, Aliya meets Cal, also from a Karachi family, but from the poor side of town. Despite her attraction to him, Aliya is not sure what to do, surprised and dismayed by her own snobbishness at times.

The writing style is captivating, I read almost the whole book in one sitting! Aliya is a good narrator, but also a worthy main character, you really want to see how her own story will play out, as well as more about her family. ( )
1 vote soffitta1 | Apr 12, 2011 |
This contemporary novel tells the story of Aliya, a Pakistani woman of an aristocratic family who becomes reacquainted with family members - first in London and then in Karachi - after being away for four years at a university in America. Aliya thinks of herself as a family historian and a storyteller, but over the course of the novel she becomes aware of aspects of her family's story she never knew, especially that relating to the Partition of India which also divided the family. It's easy for me to get lost in this book, both by the complex family relations and the many Urdu terms sprinkled through the text. On the other hand, unlike many Around the World for a Good Book choices, Salt and Saffron is funny. I knew this right from the start when Shamsie writes: "Confused? Would you rather I changed the topic to yak milk production?"

The plot feels a little flimsy and soulless as if its there merely to serve an intellectual exercise about genealogy. The novel has its moments and overall I'd say its a good but not great book. ( )
1 vote Othemts | Jun 30, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 158234261X, Paperback)

A beautiful novel detailing the life and loves of a Pakistani girl living in the U.S.

Aliya may not have inherited her family's patrician looks, but she is as much a prey to the legends of her family that stretch back to the days of Timur Lang. Aristocratic and eccentric-the clan has plenty of stories to tell, and secrets to hide.
Like salt and saffron, which both flavor food but in slightly different ways, it is the small, subtle differences that cause the most trouble in Aliya's family. The family problems and scandals caused by these minute differences echo the history of the sub-continent and the story of Partition.

A superb storyteller, Kamila Shamsie writes with warmth and gusto. Through the many anecdotes about Pakistani family life, she hints at the larger tale of a divided nation. Spanning the subcontinent from the Muslim invasions to the Partition, this is a magical novel about the shapes stories can take- turning into myths, appearing in history books and entering into our lives.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:53 -0400)

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