This was weird. The reviewer is in awe of her – power, celebrity, scion, hereditary fame, activism, beauty, western composure, oriental aesthetic, class privilege and dynastic worth.
“It’s no wonder she has consistently denied any interest in going into politics. Still, at age 32, Bhutto is more of a celebrity than most first-time fiction writers. Born in Kabul, raised in Damascus, educated in New York and London, she now lives in Karachi. She has over 850,000 followers on Twitter, where her page begins with a quote from Vladimir Nabokov that reads, “My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.”
The perfect product of the Western imagination of how the Wogs will grow up to be civilised like us. And yet, the book review, when the writer does get past fawning over her and starts to read her work, suggests a trite, cliched, pretentious work. It may not be, but that is the impression left from reading the critical review part of this hagiography.
“At times in “The Shadow of the Crescent Moon,” it’s hard not to notice that she’s still learning the difficult art of story-making. Too often, she tries to build momentum through portentous foreshadowing and cryptic dialogue. She frequently withholds information from the reader to heighten the mystery, a technique that works best when applied sparingly. The innate tension and forward motion that come from setting a novel on a single morning — a fine premise — is squandered by a few too many flashbacks.”
There is now a desperate monotony to Pakistani novelists of ‘foreign’ education and class privilege: a locating narratives in the very heart of imperial geography and fantasy, and then wringing their hands to squeeze out a charitable humanity from within it. Aslam, Hamid, Bhutto seem all to gravitate to the only turmoil that matters: the one that resonates in New York and Washington D.C.
The book, we are told, is basically a beginners effort. The book we are told is often over written. The book we are told is misguided in its condemnations of the state intelligence and military. The book we are told is not quite that good. But goodness she is so hyper-cosmo-cool that we will just write about it here!