A novel with great scope ranging over a vast sweep of modern history, written with great warmth and understanding.The novel describes three sections, first is in 1945 Hiroko Tanaka has become engaged to Konrad Weiss, a German living in Nagasaki. He is killed by the atomic bomb tragedy of Nagasaki and she is injured. Following her recovery, after 2 years she goes to India to see Konrad’s sister Ilse, who is married to an Englishman, James Burton who is a lawyer and rather upper middle class. Where Hiroko meets one of James Burton’s employees Sajjad Ashraf. They fall in love and marry; travel from Dehli to Karachi after partition.
The second part moves to Pakistan in the early 1980s. The story here revolves around Sajjad and Hiroko again and their teenage son Raza and James and Ilse’s son Harry, who is working for the CIA.
The final section is set just after 9/11. Harry and Raza are working together in Afghanistan for a private security company, whilst Ilse and Hiroko are in New York. Harry’s daughter Kim plays a central role.
A novel which seeks to cover the historic tragedies like the dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki, the end of British empire, partition of subcontinent, the cold war of Soviet Union, the CIA supporting the mujahedeen, 9/11, the Taliban, the fear of terrorism and the war in Afghanistan. The themes run around love, family, trust and betrayal, friendship, religion and a clash of cultures. The novel leaves a deep impact on the reader, with emotions ranging from tears and sorrow to anger.
An excerpt from the book: “…countries like yours they always fight wars, but always somewhere else. The disease always happens somewhere else. It’s why you fight more wars than anyone else; because you understand war least of all.”