No need for a map to get lost in the millions of metaphors this book is sprinkled liberally with. A story of a Pakistani family and South Asian community lost in trying to finding ways of living (and loving) in Dasht-e-Tanhai (the “Desert of Solitutde”) somewhere in England. In the way of (according to the author) Pakistani thinking, the language brims with flowers (and moths & butterflies) in a way that is entirely and utterly enjoyable.
It’s certainly a long journey to travel with the various characters. I must admit I found myself more engrossed in the sections of the book dealing with the way personal and political life was shaped by events of early post-Independence India (the backdrop) than the personal story of the Mehras, Kapoors, Chatterjis. Tandons and eventually Khannas (the main plot). Even if I on a couple of occasions did put the book down, letting it rest for a few days and then become re-engaged, I finally found myself 50 pages from the end cringing at the prospects presented to Lata. I guess after a “year” and 1500 pages you can’t help but feel a certain affinity to all the people and places (Brahmpur sounds a bit of a drag, but certainly it would have been somewhat exciting to be in Chatterji Kolkata) in the book.