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BOOK REVIEW (Original ) And Thereby Hangs a Tale (what appeared in Daily Times was heavily edited)

He has penned numerous bestsellers, done a stint as an M.P. (Member of Parliament), followed by a stint in prison, stopped by the House of Lords, and been in and out of politics. Somewhere along the way he also made ‘life peer’. He is Jeffrey Archer –successful British author and failed politician, who has a knack for turning his fortunes around. His lordship has been front page news for years. He is no stranger to celebrity or infamy and is someone who seems to juggle these roles (as author, politician and jailbird) better than most.

Archers first book – ‘Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less’, written after his close encounter with near-bankruptcy was an instant bestseller. In later life, his courtroom ordeal became a stage play (Archer dabbles in playwriting) titled ‘The Accused’ and two years in prison ended up as a three part volume aptly named ‘A Prison Diary’ - Hell (Part 1), Purgatory (Part II) & Heaven (Part III). Another well known work - ‘Kane and Abel’ has been recently …

BOOK REVIEW (Original) of IMRAN SERIES

Thanks to Liberty Books for the review copy

The House of Fear – An Imran Series Novel....Author: Ibn-e Safi ....Translated by: Bilal Tanveer

Once upon a time, a very long time ago, a little girl read what she thought was the best Urdu mystery novel ever. It starred three boys and was set in Thailand. Years later, she came across the same novel. This time it was in English and starred three girls. The novel was Nancy Drew. Needless to say, Carolyn Keene’s version had come first. But while some were getting duped into buying forgeries, others were lining up for one Ibne Safi – writer extraordinaire, King of Urdu Crime Fiction who reigned over both sides of the divide from 1950’s - 1980.

Asrar Narvi has penned hundreds of novels under the nome de plume of Ibn-e Safi. He is probably best known for creating two highly popular Whodunits - ‘Imran Series’ & ‘Jasoosi Duniya’ (The World of Espionage).

‘Imran Series’ was developed in the early 1950’s after Safi moved to Pakistan. It became …

BOOK REVIEW: My Life With The Taliban

Author: Abdul Salam Zaeef
Translation by: Alex Strick Van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn
Reviewed by: Afrah Jamal

Thanks to Liberty Books for the review copy

Published in Daily Times / Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Afghan Taliban’s claim to fame: obliterating 6th century monuments at Bamian, reactivating a medieval code of conduct and hosting the US’s most wanted man. Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) has been lambasted for grooming this force of nature and further accused of aiding and abetting it after 2001, but if one founding member is to be believed, they have little to do with the set up. The Taliban were already in their gestation phase and simply moved in to fill the (moral) void left by outgoing invaders and incoming outlaws.

This is the story of the singing, dancing mujahideen that evolved into a dreaded inquisition squad which ran Afghanistan for five years, as told by Mullah Zaeef — who was once a high profile member of the said squad. But he is neither a def…

BOOK REVIEW (Urdu Audio): Mehwar Ki Talash

Published in Daily Times / Saturday, July 10, 2010

Author: Sabuha Khan
Reviewed by: Afrah Jamal

They head to other lands that guarantee the freedoms promised by their own and mould themselves in the image of the people that provide them. The immigrants’ transformation is complete but their quest for identity has just begun.

Sabuha Khan, a Pakistani, is on a quest of her own as she steps into Toronto — a city she wryly observes to be ninth from the top from a place that is probably ninth from the bottom. She has witnessed the impact of such a decision firsthand when her children moved away but now casts a wider net to allow other characters to step forward and add to the tale.

The book includes interviews with fellow Pakistanis and other nationalities spread out over three continents to determine the collective toll the act of migration takes on families and the ensuing identity crisis. This also gives her the opportunity to assess the lure of the West while examining the pull of the …

BOOK REVIEW: Beatrice and Virgil: A Novel Reviewed by Afrah Jamal

Thanks to Liberty Books for the review copy

Published in Daily Times / Saturday, July 03, 2010

Author: Yann Martel

According to a website, the Middle East, race relations, gun control, origins of man and religion are among the top 10 things that can never be discussed online “without serious drama following shortly thereafter”.

“The systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of approximately six million Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborator,” otherwise known as the Holocaust, is number four on this list.

Their reasoning is simple: whichever side you are on, this one topic is a guaranteed firestarter.

Yann Martel is not just talking about the fourth item on the list but is also seeking a new venue altogether to stage his ‘representation’ of that event. To know how he intends to take on such a delicate subject and why it took him eight years to write another book, one must meet Henry.

Henry L’Hote, the main character of this book, is an author headed back in …