‘These struggles of Pakistanis were not just about Pakistan, they were about the survival of the entire human race. They were about the whole planet.’ So Nargis, the focal figure in Nadeem Aslam’s new novel, reflects after her husband is killed by a random shot, one of about a hundred, fired by an American who was ostensibly aiming at assailants.
Though the American’s real purpose remains mysterious (as does much else in this novel of mysteries), his act is a framing device for this many-centred book. The authorities try to persuade Nargis to ‘forgive’ her husband’s killer, using a religious clause, so as to avoid retaliations. Nargis escapes