Friday, 24 January 2014

BOOK REVIEW : The Scatter Here Is Too Great by Bilal Tanweer

Niraj, my husband, is a movie buff who lives with the logic that, any and every movie has something worth watching in it. After being married for a decade his so called ideologies have rubbed off me too. Though mine is a slight deviation from the original. I truly believe that every book is worth reading at least once as it has some interesting parts which make the read worthwhile. But in the recent times, my ideology has been challenged quite frequently which is a major sore point for me. 
Bilal Tanweer is the new author on the block and "The Scatter Here Is Too Great" , is his debut novel.  The story is based in Karachi and in its core is a bomb blast which happens near the main crossing of the railway station. The story is about the people who were present in that area at the time of the blast. Tanweer weaves his book with a chapter dedicated to each character and eventually leads the character to the blast site. 
There is a boy and a girl who go on a drive towards the sea and enroute , are present in the area when the bomb blasts. The shocked state of the young couple as they pass through that road and their awkward silence at the seaside speaks volumes about the mental agony of the common man who see these blasts happen right in front of their eyes. 
Tanweer tells us about an ex-communist ,Comrade Sukhansaz who is an idealist separated from his wife and son, who dies in this blast. He was a true patriot who loved his country dearly and believed that that revolution was the answer to his country's problems. But when his son was born his loyalties got divided between his son and the revolution. Ultimately he gave up his beloved son for his first duty, the revolution. This sacrifice broke his spirit and he was never the same again. 
Asma is a girl who comes down to live in Karachi with her younger brother at her grandmother's place. Here she meets Sadeq who is their neighbour. Sadeq's job profile is snatching cars from people who have defaulted on their bank loans. He hates his job and always thinks of giving it up but could never find the courage for it. He gets attracted to Asma who is a shy and gentle girl. But before this young couple could express their feelings, they get caught by Asma's grandmother and Asma bears the brunt of all the anger and shame. Sadeq, too is very upset and on that fateful day he almost decides to give up his job when he gets killed in the bomb blast near the Cantt station. 
Tanweer brings his story together through the words and opinion of a young writer who is grieving for his deceased father and who is not able to come in terms with the sudden and drastic changes happening in his favourite city, Karachi.
It is very obvious from the tone of this novel that the author, Bilal Tanweer is in love with his hometown. The way he has written about the city, it's idiosyncrasies,its people, their attitude, their fighting spirit in the face of constant death and uncertainty is commendable. I can truly say that Tanweer has his fingers on the pulse of this city who is desperately trying to come out as a winner in this everyday fight against corruption, terrorism and inequality. He talks about the people of every strata and their daily fight for their basic right to live and find happiness admist all their struggle. 
Though Tanweer has showcased the good, bad and ugly parts of Karachi in a very beautiful, synchronised manner, I personally did not like the book. I was very disappointed and was almost tempted to leave it even before I finished the first hundred pages. For one, I found the book to be very confusing, in the way the story moved forward. I am no expert but I did not like his style of writing. I found it to be very abrupt with sudden beginnings and endings in every chapter.
All my friends were questioning me as to why read a debut novel, when it must be all so raw. I agree that this novel does seem rough at the edges and though I did not like the book much, I applaud to the spirit and the firm belief of Bilal Tanweer to write his debut novel on such a sensitive and emotional