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.