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Fourteen years ago, famous Pakistani activist Samina Akram disappeared Two years earlier, her lover, Pakistan s greatest poet, was beaten to death by government thugs In present day Karachi, her daughter Aasmaani has just discovered a letter in the couple s private code a letter that could only have been written recently Aasmaani is thirty, single, drifting from job to job Always left behind whenever Samina followed the Poet into exile, she had assumed that her mother s disappearance was simply another abandonment Then, while working at Pakistan s first independent TV station, Aasmaani runs into an old friend of Samina s who gives her the first letter, then many Where could the letters have come from And will they lead her to her mother Merging the personal with the political, Broken Verses is at once a sharp, thrilling journey through modern day Pakistan, a carefully coded mystery, and an intimate mother daughter story that asks how we forgive a mother who leaves Broken Verses by Kamila Shamsie is in the first person point of view of Aasmaani Inqalab, a thirty something Pakistani woman Her mother, a charismatic and prominent activist for women s rights, disappeared and is presumed dead of suicide 14 years before the book opens Her mother s lover Omi , a very famous poet, had been incarcerated several times in Pakistan for his radical views and critiques of the government His body, with evidence of brutal torture, was found two years before her moth Broken Verses by Kamila Shamsie is in the first person point of view of Aasmaani Inqalab, a thirty something Pakistani woman Her mother, a charismatic and prominent activist for women s rights, disappeared and is presumed dead of suicide 14 years before the book opens Her mother s lover Omi , a very famous poet, had been incarcerated several times in Pakistan for his radical views and critiques of the government His body, with evidence of brutal torture, was found two years before her mother s death And now,than a decade after their deaths, Aasmaani still struggles with accepting their disappearance from her life.The novel opens with Aasmaani taking a job at a local T.V station in Karachi She has apparently drifted aimlessly in life since her mother s disappearance While at the T.V station, she receives coded letters forwarded to her by a famous actress who was one of her mother s closest friends These letters convince her that either the poet or her mother or both are still alive She de codes each letter and becomes obsessed with investigating the circumstances of their alleged deaths The plot is interesting and has potential Unfortunately, it fails in execution Aasmaani is a self obsessed whining character who spends an interminable amount of time fretting about not being the center of her mother s life This poor me stance goes on throughout the novel, ad nauseum She spends an inordinate amount of time obsessively remembering her mother and alternating between feelings of anger and love toward her for choosing to be with the Poet rather than with her own daughter These ruminations are tedious and weigh down the novel.And then there is the issue of Aasmaani s relationships She has a strained relationship with her father, her step mother, and step sister three people who continue to shower her with unconditional love She has a love hate relationship with the movie star s son who also happens to be a colleague at the T.V station and who shares the struggle of having a famous mother Their dialogue is strained, pretentious, and completely unnatural They talk in clich s and cite lines from Western poetry and Western movies as if each is trying to outdo the other People simply don t talk like that in real life.Add to the mix references to recent political events and prominent figures in Pakistani politics an oppressive government the tensions between religious extremism and civil rights a halting love affair Aasmaani s famous mother as Omi s muse a beautiful movie star whose return to the T.V screen causes a media frenzy the mystery of encoded letters and Aasmaani s obsessive search for the truth about the deaths of her mother and step father figure Kamila Shamsie has tried to do too much in this novel And it shows There is little depth to any of the characters The dialogue is unnatural The attempts at lyrical language are blatant and over written The mystery lacks luster and ends with a fizzle And the main character s interminable whining throughout makes her unlikeable and thoroughly annoying The novel is disappointing and lacks the talent Shamsie displays in Home Fire Kamila Shamsie continues to frustrate me.I ve kept hoping that her earlier books will provide some of the spark of Home Fire,that hasn t happened.Broken Verses is another disappointment,just as Kartography,Salt and Saffron and A God in Every Stone were.In the City by the Sea was even worse.Can she at least give some believable names to her characters This one has Aasmani Inqilab literally,revolution from the sky.And then there is the dialogue,pretentious as ever which makes me want not just Kamila Shamsie continues to frustrate me.I ve kept hoping that her earlier books will provide some of the spark of Home Fire,that hasn t happened.Broken Verses is another disappointment,just as Kartography,Salt and Saffron and A God in Every Stone were.In the City by the Sea was even worse.Can she at least give some believable names to her characters This one has Aasmani Inqilab literally,revolution from the sky.And then there is the dialogue,pretentious as ever which makes me want not just to skim paragraphs,but entire pages Don t you know how much I hero worshipped you when I was a kid You were Marie Curie crossed with Emily Bronte crossed with Joan of Arc to me when I was ten.You said my cultural references were the sign of a colonized mind And The next day it s Virginia Woolf who wafts throughthe next thing you know she s rearranging your syntax as if it were cultlery improperly laid out for a seven course meal with some foreign dignitary who disdains your nation s table manners Add to that the politics.This book has a revolutionary poet,who could well have been modeled on Faiz Ahmed Faiz or Habib Jalib.I m not too keen on revolutionaries especially those with leftist,communist ideologies.I ve seen what a mess such revolutions culminate in.And a few words about Pakistan s private TV news channels,with agendas of their own and the total distortion of news,while clamouring all the while for freedom of expression.The mix of ingredients in this book didn t appeal to me.I couldn t muster any enthusiasm for the revolutionary poet,Asmani Inqilab s activist mother,Kamila Shamsie s political views or Pakistan s private news channels.Or for that matter for Shamsie s pretentious writing style It took me over a week to read this book, twice of what I d normally have taken This is because I d linger over a phrase, a paragraph and often go back and read the whole page all over again I stretched out the reading to savour the experience I don t remember the last time I wanted to do that with a book The story of Aasmaani Inquilab is interesting enough If the story moves at a slightly slower pace than one is used to in the current fare, it isthan made up for by how beautifully la It took me over a week to read this book, twice of what I d normally have taken This is because I d linger over a phrase, a paragraph and often go back and read the whole page all over again I stretched out the reading to savour the experience I don t remember the last time I wanted to do that with a book The story of Aasmaani Inquilab is interesting enough If the story moves at a slightly slower pace than one is used to in the current fare, it isthan made up for by how beautifully language is used Kamila Shamsie makes an art out of writing as well as story telling with Broken Verses and excels in both Fourteen years ago, famous Pakistani activist Samina Akram disappeared Two years earlier, her lover, Pakistan s greatest poet, was beaten to death by government thugs In present day Karachi, her daughter Aasmaani has just discovered a letter in the couple s private code a letter that could only have been written recently This book has many layers but I was also interested in the portrayal of modern day Pakistan one woman is an activist, another an actress, another works for a TV station A Fourteen years ago, famous Pakistani activist Samina Akram disappeared Two years earlier, her lover, Pakistan s greatest poet, was beaten to death by government thugs In present day Karachi, her daughter Aasmaani has just discovered a letter in the couple s private code a letter that could only have been written recently This book has many layers but I was also interested in the portrayal of modern day Pakistan one woman is an activist, another an actress, another works for a TV station Aasmaani was never her mother s priority but she is still searching for her and it is heartbreaking.I had previously read Home Fires by the same author, which was largely set outside of Pakistan, and wanted to read something set in the country for my Around the World reading project Most of this novel is set in Karachi but some characters also go to Islamabad Ramzan we sometimes call it Ramadan is also observed during the novel, which is interesting when everyone should be observing it